Vietnam War: Operation Dewey Canyon

Vietnam War: Operation Dewey Canyon

By Marc D. Bernstein
6/5/2007 • Vietnam

As 1969 began, the military situation in the northern I Corps tactical zone of South Vietnam—the closest to the Demilitarized Zone—appeared relatively quiet. The previous year had been the bloodiest of the war, and the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong had both suffered losses that would be difficult to replace. Still, appearances were deceiving. Each year, the Communists had launched a spring offensive in I Corps, and the pronounced lack of combat activity at the very start of the year suggested to the U.S. command in Saigon that 1969 would be no different.

Evidence of enemy intentions began to accumulate. Reconnaissance uncovered road work being done on Route 548 in the A Shau Valley and its extension, Route 922 in Laos. As January progressed, as many as 1,000 trucks a day were observed on these roads, moving supplies south and east toward vital objectives inside South Vietnam. Activity at North Vietnamese Army Base Area 611 in Laos suggested that major elements of the NVA’s 6th and 9th Regiments were moving east through the A Shau Valley. In response, American and South Vietnamese forces probed farther into the mountains of western Quang Tri Province and near the DMZ, seeking to upset the enemy’s plans.

The U.S. 3rd Marine Division was responsible for defending Quang Tri Province. An element of the division, Task Force Hotel, operated out of Vandegrift Combat Base in western Quang Tri. Major Gen. Raymond G. Davis, a veteran of World War II and Korea, and a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions at Chosin Reservoir in 1950, commanded the division. He had taken charge in May 1968, and immediately set out to improve the unit’s combat effectiveness. “We had something like two dozen battalions up there all tied down (with little exception) to these fixed positions, and the situation didn’t demand it,” he later stated. “The way to get it done was to get out of these fixed positions and get mobility, to go and destroy the enemy on our terms—not sit there and absorb the shot and shell and frequent penetrations that he was able to mount.”

The 9th Marines, commanded by Colonel Robert H. Barrow, was the division’s swing regiment, the one most easily redeployed to meet any contingency. Barrow noted that the enemy’s first requirement was to “move all the things of war; all of their logistics forward from the sanctuaries of North Vietnam, just across the DMZ, or from Laos….We must do everything we can to find that stuff, wherever it exists, and obviously destroy it. And if we miss any of it, we must attempt by vigorous patrolling, radio intercept, signal intelligence, recon team inserts, and whatever else, to find out when any troops were moving in.”

The Communist technique was to pre-position supplies, then move in quickly with troops at the appointed time to marry up with the supplies and launch an attack. Clearly, as the Marines observed the increase in pre-positioning of supplies in forward areas, the need to preempt a Communist attack was becoming paramount. As the Marines’ official history notes, “A victory, even against one or more limited objectives of minor or temporary tactical value, could have significant impact upon the civilian population, and a more far-reaching effect upon bargaining positions at the ongoing Paris Peace Talks. The enemy’s jungle logistics system therefore would have to be destroyed before it could be used.”

At the time, General Davis was more direct about the situation: “It makes me sick to sit on this hill and watch those 1,000 trucks go down those roads in Laos, hauling ammunition down south to kill Americans with.”

Air interdiction of the supply routes had yielded only limited success, and the growing volume of anti-aircraft fire along the routes further indicated that the NVA was protecting something important. On January 14, General Davis ordered Brig. Gen. Frank E. Garretson, commander of Task Force Hotel at Vandegrift, to plan for a regiment-size search and clear operation into the Song Da Krong Valley, just northwest of the A Shau Valley, and north of NVA Base Area 611 in Laos. This would become Operation Dewey Canyon, whose primary purpose was not only to kill the enemy and deny him supplies, but also to block his access to the densely populated areas of the coastal lowlands.

The 9th Marines were well prepared to launch this operation, as they had spent the previous eight months honing their mountain warfare skills in combat in Quang Tri Province. However, the operational planning was a hurry-up affair. As Barrow remarked later, “Dewey Canyon was planned, including command reconnaissances and support arrangements, and launched in five days.” Nevertheless, he said, “The force that entered Dewey Canyon was about as ready as any force could possibly be.”

Dewey Canyon would be a three-phase operation. In Phase I, the regiment would move into the area of operations and establish fire support bases for the supporting artillery of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines (2/12). Phase II would consist of patrolling near the fire support bases and aligning the infantry units for a jump-off into the next phase. Phase III called for a conventional three-battalion advance southward, with the infantry units moving overland rather than by helicopter because heavy anti-aircraft defenses in the area of the Phase III objectives made movement by foot preferable to General Davis’ usual concept of high-mobility heliborne operations. But because the area was in the remote southwest corner of Quang Tri Province, helicopters would still be critical in the early phases and in resupplying the troops on the ground.

The upper Song Da Krong Valley is 62 kilometers west of Hue and 48 kilometers southwest of Quang Tri City, and the 9th Marines would be operating some 50 kilometers south of their main supply depot at Vandegrift Combat Base. The valley follows the course of the winding Da Krong River (Song Da Krong) and is surrounded by high mountains and ridgelines. Between it and the neighboring A Shau Valley to the south are two large hill masses, Tam Boi (Hill 1224) and Co A Nang (Hill 1228), the latter better known as Tiger Mountain. On the western edge of the valley stands a 1,500-meter-high razorback ridge named Co Ka Leuye. The eastern half of the valley is covered with dense jungle, while west of the river it is dominated by tall elephant grass and brushwood. The river itself runs east to west, then makes a sharp turn to the north.

Phase I began on January 19 with the reopening of Fire Support Base Henderson, eight kilometers southeast of Ca Lu. The next day, fire support bases Shiloh and Tun Tavern, which had been used by the 9th Marines in earlier operations, were reopened. On January 22, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines (2/9) air-assaulted into the northern sector of the Dewey Canyon area of operations to establish Fire Support Base Razor, eight kilometers south-southeast of Shiloh, near the Da Krong River. In order to construct Razor, large trees had to be felled and bulldozers were brought in by helicopter to clear the area and prepare it for the insertion of artillery. On January 24, the 3/9 air-assaulted onto a razorback ridgeline about six kilometers south-southeast of Razor to build Cunningham and begin patrolling in the vicinity. Cunningham became the center of the Dewey Canyon operation as two batteries of 2/12 moved into it to complete Phase I. The Dewey Canyon area of operations was now well covered as the effective range of the artillery at Cunningham was 11 kilometers. Eventually the 9th Marines’ command post and that of the 2/12 moved to Cunningham to take advantage of its central location.

Enemy opposition to Phase I had been light. Accordingly, Phase II began without difficulty on January 24-25, when the 2nd and 3rd Battalions started intensive patrolling north of the Da Krong River. Almost immediately, 3/9 uncovered a four-strand North Vietnamese Army telephone line strung between trees running from Laos into enemy Base Area 101 farther east within South Vietnam. A special communications intelligence team was quickly brought in to tap the wires and break the code. A North Vietnamese hospital consisting of eight large permanent buildings—Field Hospital 88—near the Da Krong River, was discovered by 2/9. The complex, abandoned just a day before the Marines found it, contained large quantities of Russian-made surgical instruments and antibiotics.

Now the Marines positioned themselves to initiate Phase III. The 2nd Battalion patrolled the western flank of the operations area near Laos, while 3/9 maneuvered on the eastern flank. The plan was to bring 1/9 into the middle just as Phase III was about to jump off. But before Phase III could begin, 2/9 was given two additional tasks: Company G was to seize the important Co Ka Leuye ridgeline in the western extremity of 2/9’s sector, and Company F was to build an additional firebase, named Erskine, so the battalion could continue to operate under a protective artillery umbrella as it pushed southward. In 3/9’s sector, Company K began construction of Fire Support Base Lightning, east of Cunningham, which then received two battalions of the 2nd ARVN Regiment plus an ARVN artillery battalion late in January.

At the very end of January, bad weather became a serious factor. Visibility and cloud ceiling were both at zero. In early February, after several days of bad weather, Colonel Barrow instructed his battalions to pull their companies back to where they could be effectively supported from the fire support bases. Company G, which had completed its arduous climb to the top of Co Ka Leuye, now had to abandon that position.

As the company moved back down from the ridge on the morning of February 5, it stumbled into an ambush. Quickly, Captain Daniel A. Hitzelberger’s 2nd and 3rd platoons were pinned down by a hail of automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Hitzelberger committed his 1st Platoon in a flanking maneuver that eventually freed up the 3rd Platoon and forced the enemy to withdraw, but not before the company suffered five Marines killed and 18 wounded. Among the dead was Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan Jr., a rifleman who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Noonan had braved withering enemy fire to drag a seriously wounded comrade to safety, inspiring the rest of his platoon to charge the enemy positions and reach three other wounded men who had been cut off by the heavy volume of fire.

After this encounter, Company G continued its difficult trek down the mountain. Hitzelberger later reported that “the stretcher cases were moving up and down slopes in excess of 70 degrees. We had to use six, eight and, at times, ten men to carry a stretcher and it would take us over 30 minutes to move one stretcher case over one bad area.”

Upon reaching the bottom of a rocky cliff, the company was met by a relief platoon from Company E, which brought medical supplies and some much-needed rations. Still, it took another 11⁄2 days for Company G to reach the Da Krong. At that point, two Marine CH-46 helicopters, flying through dense fog and enemy fire, evacuated the most seriously wounded to Vandegrift Combat Base. By February 8, Company G finally reached the safety of Landing Zone Dallas, west of Cunningham. Battalion commander Lt. Col. George C. Fox noted that Company G’s ordeal on Co Ka Leuye “was a tremendous performance in leadership and fire discipline.”

Meanwhile, Fire Support Base Cunningham was shelled by enemy 122mm guns located in Laos, receiving 30 to 40 rounds that disabled a howitzer and knocked out a battery’s fire direction center on February 2, killing five Marines and leaving five more wounded. The enemy guns were beyond the range of the firebase’s own 155mm howitzers. Cunningham continued to take sporadic artillery fire throughout Dewey Canyon.

All told, the 9th Marines were sidetracked by bad weather for nine straight days. Consequently, the 1st Battalion’s airlift into the area of operations was delayed and the North Vietnamese had additional time to prepare and strengthen their defenses for the coming Marine assault into Base Area 611. It had been anticipated that operating during the monsoon would prove problematic and in fact the weather did cost the Marines crucial momentum. Finally, on February 10, the weather improved enough for elements of 1/9 to move forward from Vandegrift and Shiloh to Fire Support Base Erskine. Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines was shifted by helicopter from Razor southward to Erskine. Phase III was set to begin.

Early on February 11, 3/9 crossed Phase Line Red and forded the Da Krong River. The 1st and 2nd battalions crossed the river the next day. Each battalion had its zone of operations about five kilometers wide and an objective eight kilometers beyond Phase Line Red. In the eastern sector, 3/9 was to move along ridgelines 2,000 meters apart, sending one company to take Tiger Mountain and two more to take Tam Boi. This would put 3/9 on the edge of the A Shau Valley. In the center, 1/9 would advance along two parallel ridges toward an objective on the Laotian border. Farther west, 2/9 was to move through a valley and the ridges just east of it, also with an objective on the Laotian border. Colonel Barrow’s plan was for each battalion to proceed with two companies in the van and two companies in trace.

After crossing the Da Krong, the Marines encountered strong enemy forces. On the eastern flank, Company M was mortared and attacked by a North Vietnamese Army platoon, suffering two dead while killing 18 enemy. The 1st Battalion ran into a large enemy force positioning to attack Erskine. Well-supported by artillery, 1/9 forced the North Vietnamese to withdraw, killing 25 and capturing numerous weapons. Company C engaged a reinforced North Vietnamese platoon on a hilltop, taking the hill while killing 12 of the enemy. An NVA effort to regain the position at night was successfully fought off by the Marines, using mortars and artillery. Overall, the enemy proved a tough adversary south of the Da Krong, sniping at the Marines from trees and attacking their positions at night in an attempt to delay the advance toward vital Route 922 in Laos.

The North Vietnamese efforts proved futile, however, as the Marines made good use of artillery and air strikes in pushing south. On February 17, 2/9’s Company G engaged in an all-day running firefight with a company of NVA, resulting in five Marine and 39 enemy dead. Also on February 17, before daybreak, the NVA launched a major attack on FSB Cunningham, with sappers breaching the wire and throwing grenades and satchel charges at the Marines in a wild dash toward the center of the base. The 3rd Battalion’s Company L and 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines fought hard to repel the intruders but sustained major damage in the first few minutes, losing centralized fire direction. Regaining control of the situation by sunrise, the Marines counted 37 North Vietnamese dead in and around the firebase. Four Marines were killed and 46 wounded in the fighting. The enemy sappers in this attack had been fortified by narcotics, which, a Marine lieutenant stated, “made them a lot harder to kill. Not one of the gooks we had inside the perimeter had less than three or four holes in him. Usually it took a grenade or something to stop him completely.”

February 18-22 saw the heaviest fighting in the southward advance. Five kilometers southeast of Erskine, 1/9 ran up against an NVA platoon dug into reinforced bunkers along a ridgeline. The enemy fought tenaciously but Company A overran the position, killing 30 defenders. This was followed by Company C’s assault against enemy hilltop positions the next day, which resulted in 30 more NVA dead. Continuing its attack on the same bunker complex on February 20, Company C encountered a large enemy force. After calling in air strikes, they took the bunkers, killing 71 North Vietnamese and capturing two 122mm artillery pieces and a tracked prime mover, at a cost of five Marines killed and 28 wounded.

With Marines approaching the Laotian border, the enemy kept up heavy shelling even while attempting to withdraw his artillery beyond the potential reach of the Marine advance. The ongoing enemy artillery attacks and concern over the vulnerability of the Marines’ western flank prompted a request from General Davis to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, to redirect its Studies and Observations Group (SOG) reconnaissance efforts from the Laotian panhandle toward Base Area 611. MACV approved the request. But an earlier request from Davis, seeking approval to conduct offensive ground operations inside Laos, had been tabled by MACV. Nevertheless, the then-current rules of engagement did permit commanders to take “necessary counteractions against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army forces in the exercise of self-defense and to defend their units against armed attacks with all means at their disposal.” That language proved enough to justify the Marines crossing the border into—as deemed by the 1962 Geneva Accords—a neutral Laos.

Even so, Army Lt. Gen. Richard G. Stilwell, commanding XXIV Corps, of which the 3rd Marine Division was a part, saw ample reason to push for specific authorization from MACV to conduct a cross-border attack. On February 20, he recommended to his superior, Marine Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman, commanding III Marine Amphibious Force, that a limited raid into NVA Base Area 611 within Laos, to a depth of five kilometers along a 20-kilometer front, be authorized. Cushman endorsed the proposal and forwarded it to General Creighton W. Abrams at MACV the same day.

While the high command debated the political advisability of an incursion into supposedly neutral Laos, Colonel Barrow was taking matters into his own hands. On the afternoon of February 21, he ordered 2/9’s Company H commander, Captain David F. Winecoff, to set up an ambush that night along Route 922 inside Laos. Winecoff had been in position to observe truck movement on the road, and had called in artillery fire missions on it, but the NVA traffic continued. As Company H was tired from patrolling, Winecoff requested a 24-hour postponement of the ambush operation. Barrow denied the request and further instructed the captain to be back inside South Vietnam by 0630 hours February 22.

After darkness fell, Winecoff took two platoons into Laos toward the road, a distance of over half-a-mile. The men stayed off trails, moving along a creek bed and a ridgeline, trying to minimize the noise of their approach. When they reached a small river running parallel to Route 922, Winecoff sent a platoon commander and a sergeant ahead to reconnoiter for a good ambush site. While waiting for the two scouts to return, the Marines observed more movement along the road. The enemy searched the area with a spotlight but the Marines remained undiscovered.

With a good site finally located, Winecoff sent his men across the stream and 35 meters beyond the road to set up a linear ambush and wait for oncoming traffic. Claymore mines were set out, but a number of vehicles were allowed to pass while the ambush was made ready. Meanwhile, back inside South Vietnam, Barrow sought and obtained approval from Task Force Hotel at Vandegrift for the limited border violation, presenting General Garretson with something of a fait accompli. The North Vietnamese were using Route 922 to move artillery out of reach of the Marine infantry and to continue moving supplies forward, so traffic along the road could be heading either east or west. As Winecoff’s men lay in wait, at 0230 hours on February 22 the lights of eight trucks were seen on the road moving from the west. The first three trucks entered the killing zone, and then the column halted. Winecoff fired his claymore at the second truck, setting it ablaze and killing its occupants. The first truck also started burning and the third vehicle was forced off the road. The Marines poured automatic weapons fire into the hapless NVA trucks and called in artillery. After firing for several more minutes, the Marines moved back across the road and crossed the border back into South Vietnam. The ambush was a success, destroying three trucks and killing eight NVA troops while sustaining no casualties themselves. The III Marine Amphibious Force’s chief of staff exclaimed: “Hit ’em hard! Good news—who knows where the border is anyway?”

The success of the ambush led Colonel Barrow to request a continuation of operations within Laos. A message from General Abrams to III MAF only authorized SOG forces to be in Laos, but the Marines knew that a local commander still had the right to self-defense. Barrow told higher headquarters that “my forces should not be here if ground interdiction of Route 922 [is] not authorized.”

This prompted General Stilwell at XXIV Corps again to request authority from MACV for an advance into Laos “not exceeding two kilometers from the border at any point.” Given the circumstances, Abrams reluctantly agreed to a limited incursion on February 24. Thus, the 2nd Battalion, minus one company, moved into Laos and proceeded to advance eastward along Route 922, staying inside Laos until March 1. Ameri­can Ambassador to Laos William H. Sullivan and the Laotian prime minister were not informed of this border violation until operations were well underway and, fearing possible international political repercussions, Abrams insisted that public discussion of the incursion by subordinates be severely restricted.

The Marines moved rapidly up Route 922, seeking to force the North Vietnamese Army into the path of 1/9 and 3/9, still in South Vietnam. Along the way, 2/9 engaged in several significant firefights with enemy troops and captured a number of artillery pieces, plus large quantities of ammunition and foodstuffs: “It was an exhilarating feeling for Marines to be in the exploitive phase of a battle and raiding the enemy’s supply dump/rear area,” Captain Winecoff later wrote. “In this author’s 27 months in Vietnam, this was the one time where intelligence was available down at the company level, the one time that operational plans were based upon a competent intelligence plan.”

Officially, 2/9 lost eight men killed and 33 wounded while operating in Laos. During one NVA attack, Corporal William D. Morgan of Company H came to the aid of two wounded Marines by single-handedly assaulting an enemy bunker. Killed in the assault, Morgan’s actions allowed the rest of his patrol to rescue the wounded men. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor—with the place of action listed as “southeast of Vandegrift Combat Base, Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam,” rather than where his heroism had actually occurred, inside Laos.

In 1/9’s sector in the center of the Dewey Canyon area of operations, Lieutenant Wesley L. Fox’s Company A engaged in heavy fighting on February 22. After overrunning a North Vietnamese Army squad located in bunkers, Fox requested that battalion send its water detail down to a nearby creek for badly needed replenishment. While the 20-man detail was filling canteens, it came under mortar and machine gun fire. Fox broke off the watering operation and began moving his company forward to attack the enemy. A platoon ran up against a heavily fortified bunker complex, backed by rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and mortar emplacements on a ridge. Fox committed three platoons to the fighting, but was unable to make effective use of artillery because of poor visibility, terrain, and the closeness of the combat.

The company command group took a direct hit from a mortar round, killing or wounding everyone in it except the executive officer. Nevertheless, Fox continued in command and personally killed an enemy sniper with his M-16 rifle and destroyed an NVA position. With two dead radiomen, he took charge of the radios and took personal command of his 3rd Platoon after its platoon leader was killed. In fighting off a final enemy assault, Fox was again wounded, but refused all medical aid. Company D eventually came to beleaguered Company A’s assistance, and by the time the smoke cleared, 105 North Vietnamese dead littered the battlefield. The Marines also captured 25 automatic weapons. Eleven Marines were killed and 72 wounded in the desperate fight.

Lieutenant (later Colonel) Fox, who had spent 16 years as an enlisted Marine and had extended his Vietnam tour of duty, received the Medal of Honor for his brilliant leadership during this battle. Three Navy Crosses and six Silver Stars were also awarded to Marines of Company A for their actions on February 22.

The 1st Battalion now moved eastward in the direction of Hills 1044 and 1224 (Tam Boi) and along South Vietnam’s Route 548. On the slopes of Hill 1044 on February 27, Company D uncovered and destroyed one of the largest NVA arms caches of the war. The supply depot held 629 rifles, 60 machine guns, 14 mortars, 15 recoilless rifles, 19 antiaircraft guns and over 100 tons of munitions.

In the meantime, 3/9, responsible for the eastern flank of Dewey Canyon operations (all within South Vietnam), came across other important NVA facilities. At Tam Boi in late February, the Marines discovered a huge headquarters and administrative complex that comprised 11 major tunnels carved into solid rock and housed extensive repair shops, storage rooms and a hospital. These facilities could withstand direct hits from artillery and aerial bombs. After securing Tiger Mountain (Hill 1228) near the end of February, 3/9 established Fire Support Base Turnage to provide artillery support for continuing operations on the edge of the A Shau Valley.

By the first of March, Operation Dewey Canyon had met its most important objectives. The NVA was forced deeper into Laos, and a large quantity of enemy equipment and supplies were captured and destroyed. Among other items, the Marines had seized 12 122mm and four 85mm artillery pieces. Now it was time to begin the retraction of the 9th Marines and their supporting elements. The plan originally called for 2/9 to be airlifted to Vandegrift on March 3, followed by the other battalions and the artillery on succeeding days. But once again the weather intervened. Also, the 9th Marines were tasked with extracting SOG forces from Laos and destroying additional enemy weapons caches. Although the retraction of 2/9 was accomplished as originally conceived, everything else was delayed. It wasn’t until March 17 that all of 3/9 could be lifted out of the area of operations. On March 18, 1/9 was extracted from Tam Boi after fending off a mortar-supported company-strength NVA attack before dawn that morning. The helicopters transporting 1/9 were under constant enemy mortar and anti-aircraft fire, but none were lost. At 2000 hours on March 18, the last helicopter landed at Vandegrift and Operation Dewey Canyon came to an official end.

In the long history of the Vietnam War, Dewey Canyon stands as one of the most successful American operations. Casualties, however, were heavy for both sides. Officially, 1,617 NVA were reported killed and five captured, while 130 Marines were killed and 920 wounded. The Marines had effectively disrupted a major enemy logistical center in Base Area 611, including in their total haul more than 1,000 NVA small arms, some 807,000 rounds of ammunition and about 220,000 pounds of rice. Marine fixed-wing aircraft flew 461 close air support missions, and Marine helicopters flew nearly 1,200 sorties. U.S. Army helicopters also flew numerous sorties in support of the Marines. The artillery fired about 134,000 rounds during the operation. This expenditure of effort proved worth the cost, as NVA plans for a big 1969 spring offensive in the I Corps Tactical Zone were derailed and, in fact, the Communists could launch no such offensive in the northern provinces that entire year. A major enemy attempt to strike at the population centers east of Base Area 611 had been forestalled by Dewey Canyon.

Praise for the Marine effort was quick in coming. General Stilwell declared: “Dewey Canyon deserves some space in American military history by sole reason of audacity, guts and magnificent inter-service team play. A Marine regiment of extraordinary cohesion, skill in mountain warfare, and plain heart made Dewey Canyon a resounding success. As an independent regimental operation, projected 50 kilometers airline from the nearest base and sustained in combat for seven weeks, it may be unparalleled. Without question, the 9th Marines’ performance represents the very essence of professionalism.”

Several years after the operation and by then commanding general at Parris Island, Colonel Barrow, addressed his fellow Marines at a Dewey Canyon reunion. He recalled “weather was the factor of greatest influence during Dewey Canyon. It was completely unpredictable from day-to-day and within a day. Extremely thick and low cloud cover and ground fog were common conditions. We were totally dependent on helicopters and they, in turn, on good weather.” So, while at times the operation was critically slowed by weather conditions, Barrow pointed out that “the support of Dewey Canyon from within and from without was magnificent….The artillery, in a word, was superb. Helicopter support from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and the 101st Airborne Division was outstanding. Fixed-wing aircraft support and the B-52s made a great contribution.”

In addition, Barrow contended that surprise was a key element in the operation: “It appears that the enemy had deceived himself into believing that U.S. forces would not be so bold as to enter that remote area of Dewey Canyon. We didn’t deceive him, he deceived himself, as his actions revealed….That we did what we did was a complete surprise to the enemy, a fact borne out by the enormous quantities of ammunition, weapons, and supplies captured or destroyed.”

But not everyone saw Dewey Canyon in such a favorable light. The incursion into Laos was reported in the New York Times in early March 1969, with a story that noted, “Operation Dewey Canyon seems to indicate that allied commanders operating along borders may dip across lines to secure their flanks.”

Thrown onto the defensive by reporters at a Vietnam news conference, Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird said of Dewey Canyon, “I would not confirm that they were there now but I would certainly say that there have been operations in which it has been necessary in order to protect American fighting forces that—that border being a very indefinite border—it may have been transgressed by American forces in carrying out this responsibility.”

Ambassador Sullivan apologized to the Laotian prime minister for the incident. Responding to questions during 1973 Congressional hearings, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas H. Moorer testified, “This was the first and only time where United States ground combat forces went into Laos.”

And, in an early 1971 forum sponsored by the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Gordon Stewart, who had been a forward artillery observer with Company H, 2/9 in Laos, spoke about his experience: “The whole company had set up a base camp on a hill. For the next three days it was pretty much hell. We ran through a lot of contact and lost a lot of men….The men became quite embittered during this operation. It became easy to kill Vietnamese. You were just animalistic….When moving through Laos, taking our dead and wounded, we took a lot of casualties.”

Stewart’s statments seem to contradict both official casualty figures and contemporaneous news reports, which indicated that contact with the enemy while inside Laos had been comparatively light. But in the final analysis, it can be said that the actions taken by the 9th Marines during Operation Dewey Canyon, while con­troversial, were acceptable. Viewed through the prism of a very controversial war, Dewey Canyon yielded considerably more positives than negatives.

Marc D. Bernstein is the author of Hurricane at Biak: MacArthur Against the Japanese, May-August 1944, and numerous articles on military and naval history. For additional reading, see: U.S. Marines in Vietnam: High Mobility and Standdown, 1969, by Charles R. Smith; and Semper Fi Vietnam, by Edward F. Murphy.

This article was written by Marc Bernstein and originally published in the August 2007 issue of Vietnam Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to Vietnam magazine today!

273 Responses to Vietnam War: Operation Dewey Canyon

  1. damon lyles says:

    My dad was in this operation.He doesnt talk much about it so this article taught me a lot about what really happened.

  2. Randolfo V. Lopez says:

    I was with D/1/9 when we went to help Alpa Company, and after when we encountered huge caches of materiel; that Ho Chi Min trail was something else; this article really brought back some memories; good friend Bill O’Shea was killed during an ambush

    • Doug Beck says:

      Iwas there that day too and helped bring the wounded and dead back up the hill that night.

      • Gary Almquist says:

        Hey Doug…

        Gary Almquist Here……

        How the Hell are ya????????

        I’ll never forget finding that NVA hospital.underground…and all those bicycles in the middle of the Jungle..Amazing..

        Been So Many Years…Please Contact me….

    • robert vann(will)wilson says:

      ll and i went through alot toghteer he helped save our plt in cav iet on the coast i was wps plt guide for my last 5-6 mos fred pettigrew took my place and was kill ed the same day i was over my rotation date 22mos thats another story

  3. HARRY A. POTE says:


    • Ron says:

      I knew you and your brother from Hometown. I remember him well. I have thought of him often and I am very grateful for his service and sacrifice.

    • mikeflanagan says:

      Hello Harry: I just found this website and I hope that you check it once in a while. I served with Freddie and he was a great guy and a good Marine. After all these years I still think of him;he was a freind to all that knew him.I can still recall the writing he had on his helmet cover:”jody is a bastard september is near.”

    • Phil T. says:

      I believe my cousin Mark Argenzio was with Alpha 1/9 in Dewey Canyon (he always referred to Ashau Valley). He was heroic (as were all of those USMC men). He lost his arm from a 50 caliber bullet wound. I remember him saying how they went on a mission down from a hill to the valley to get water and were hit on the way back up. Many of his friends died that day. He passed away back in 1987.

      I wrote a song for him and my brother Chris who joined under the buddy plan. Both are now gone. Here are a few verses and the chorus:

      As buddies they went into the Marine Corps,
      One by one they got shipped off to go fight a war.
      Went to serve their country, the few, the brave, the proud,
      Where are the boys who once made up my crowd?
      They’re gone.

      Bullet from the enemy, elder lost his arm,
      Bullet from a comrade, younger was harmed.
      Turn of events, the younger was first to die
      After the second death we could only ask why?
      They’re gone.

      They’re gone, but not forgotten
      They live inside their loved ones who are still alive.
      They’re gone, but not forgotten
      As long as we’re alive their dreams will never die, though
      They’re gone.

      • mikeflanagan says:

        Very poignant song. I was in on the water run and I am sorry your cousin got hurt. I cannot remember him by name but that doesn’t mean much. I do hope he was able to have a good life in the aftermath of that war,for many that is a real challenge.Semper Fi

    • mike flanagan says:

      Harry: I hope you stop at this website again. Freddie was such a great guy.

      • david says:

        Mike i was with C 1/9, Cpl McCann and I came to help you guys and i have a few questions I would like to ask you can you email me at and maybe we can talk by phone

        Gonzalez C 1/9 68-69

      • Phil T. says:

        I finally found the Bronze medal Award citation for my cousin Mark.
        Hopefully some of you remember him with as much fondness and admiration as I do.

        Here it is:

        The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Bronze Star Medal to:

        Private First Class Mark Argenzio
        United States Marine Corps

        For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the republic of Vietnam while serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company A, First battalion, Ninth Marines, Third marine Division. On 22 February 1989 Company A was participating in Operation Dewey in the A Shau Valley when it came under attack from a well-entrenched North Vietnamese Army Battalion. As the Second Platoon commenced an aggressive assault upon enemy emplacements, the Marines came under a heavy volume of mortar, small arms and automatic weapons fire and sustained several casualties. Fearlessly exposing himself to the hostile fire, Private First Class Argenzio ably assisted his gunner in directing accurate machine gun fire at the entrenched enemy force. When his machine gun had malfunctioned, he steadfastly attempted to clear the stoppage until he was wounded by enemy small arms fire. Continuing his determined efforts, he unhesitatingly seized an M-16 rifle from an injured comrade and assaulted North Vietnamese Army positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, he fearlessly maneuvered across the fire-swept terrain shouting words of encouragement to his fellow marines and firing his weapon until the seriousness of his injuries forced him to be medically evacuated. His bold initiative and timely actions inspired all who observed him and contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit’s mission. Private First Class Argenzio’s courage, resolute determination and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of The marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

        — H.W. Buse, Jr.
        Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps
        Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific

      • Phil T. says:

        The date I wrote in my converting the citation to something I could post is incorrect. It was 1969, not 1989.

    • David Gonzalez says:

      Harry ,
      First of all sorry about your brother, we lost a lot of good men on that operation. I was with C 1/9 and i don’t have very many pictures of Viet Nam. I would like to have any pictures you might want to share. Please send them to thank you

  4. Puni Mikaele says:

    I was there with Company I, 3/9. We were at Tiger Mountains
    supporting other elements of the 9th Marines operating in the
    area. It was one hell of an operation and I couldn’t more happier
    when it was over. Thank you Lord for protecting us and bless all
    those who were involved in this operation and throughout the
    years of the Viet Nam War. Thank you Marines. I’m retired now
    but our history is in my heart. I love you all and God bless you
    and your families.

    Puni Mikaele
    GySgt, USMC (Ret)

    • Henry 'Newbie" Davis says:

      I was at Tiger Mountain with Lt. Henry Gross and SSgt. Britt, I was the first replacement the unit received in 52 days, though I had no orders. I delivered the mail from Vandergrift Combat Base, but because of incoming motor rounds the chopper pilot was not going to land. I was not going back and not deliver the mail. That’s how I got my nickname ‘Newbie’.

    • Ronald Rains says:

      I was not a marine but had a good friend thru life and in Vietnam that was 3-9, he was kia march 3 1969. Looking for guys that might have known this hero PFC Alfred Mac Wilson
      thanks US Army 69-71

  5. Lanny Alan Roedel says:

    I was one of the FNGs with F2/9, we seen a communication line along the way. I got in one of the fox holes and couldn’t see out, I’m 5’9″ tall, we thought there may have been Red Chinese advisers near by. I was one of the ones that found Hospital 88. There was a small Ville near, the’re not far from FSB Erskine, Erskine was the support base F2/9 opened. 1st Platoon,1st Squad,1st Fire Team led by Pop Ore, Platoon Sagent, Harness, team leader ,radio man, myself and a couple others secured the hill so we could be resupplied but the fog set in and we were socked in for days but continued the mission. Note: Playtex 501 went down on it’s last resupply of the day, just infron of my position. Crew lived, but Marines on board were not straped in and lost their lies. Seper Fi Brothers, I love you. THE BAMBOOVIPER

    • Terry A. Benjamin says:

      Lanny, hate to say but I can’t remember what you look like, I was the raido operator that was with you, I was Fox 1/1 and later on after we were wiped out I was Fox 1/2. Update Pop Orr has passed away in 2005 he died of complications from an operation. I really miss him he was a good friend

      Semper Fi
      Terry B.

      • George Jensen says:

        Hey Terry:
        Any idea what happened to Sgt. Harness. Glad to see you are still around. Sorry I missed you when you came to Montana. If you get this dorp me a line at Sorry to hear about Pop Orr.

  6. Lanny Alan Roedel says:

    On a lighter NOTE: Sections of line was cut from the communications lines found then was watch because someone was reparing them. At one of the locations, a little NVA cable repairman came calling. He walked into the center of the Marines possition with his rifle on his shoulder and undetected, when he stopped to check the line,he was in the middle of the CP and everyone was shocked,no shots were fired and he surrenderd his weapon. One of very few warm and fuzzy stories from the shadows of the Valley of Death.

  7. Ed Culp says:

    Dewey Canyon. Yes, I was there, 1/9/3rd Mar Div. Entire op from start to finish. Damon, I can understand why your Father didn’t talk about it. It was a living hell. I was H&S Comm, attached to Delta company for most of the ooperation. Had my radio shot off my back, took a hit in the left thigh (Thank God it was an almost spent round) and nearly starved to death during the ‘foggy’ week or so when we couldn’t get supplys. Most of it I don’t remember clearly, and a Captain that I may have humped radio for said it in a way that makes sense; ” Most Marines that were in the Ashau Valley refer to their Nam experiences as ‘before Dewey Canyon, and after Dewey Canyon.'” Randolfo, I was with you there, Brother! Glad you made it home! Harry, God Bless your Brother, I remembered all of my comrads, named and unnamed this (and every) holiday at the meal. Harry, I would LOVE to see some of those pictures. I was sitting at the bottom of a 2000lb bomb crater with them all around me, and a film crew from the BBS took film and my name, but I have never seen the clip or seen any of the pics that were taken. Bamboo; I was on Erskin the second go around in Ashau when it blew up! That was something. The NVA could have wiped out half of 1/9 if they knew that we had left the mountain after the first explosion, and was standing lines for several days with a few M16’s and .45’s and maybe a dozen grenades. I actually stood lines in the Ashau Valley with nothing but a hand grenade! We had to wait for the EOD teams to clear the hill of un-exploded ordinance before we could go back up, and everyone had just scrambled off the top when the first 105mm gun pit blew! note: not long after that, almost half the BN came down with malaria (myself included) because no one had the anti-malaria pills to give out! Any of you may feel free to contact me, if this forum allows my email to be published, also I am active on the Together We Served Marine Corps site, God Bless you all, and God Bless our Men and Women serving so faithfully right now. Ed (

    • Trina Poppens says:

      Ed, So grateful for your service! Do you remember a PFC Kevin Day 20 yo blue eye kid from San Diego who may have been in your unit? He died from mortar shell on 2/13/1969 during Dewey operation. He was a rifleman, 1BN, 9th MAR, 3rd div IIIMAF. I am trying to piece the puzzle together about the mission he was on and his death. Others killed on that day was Maj. Donald Kennon, CPL Whitehead, PFC Lynn Naylor from San Diego too.
      God Bless you and your family.

  8. connie gable says:

    My brother was killed in Dewey Cannon Operation Febuary 11th 1969 his name Corpral Fred L. Pettigrew lll We have been told several diffrent stories on how he was killed . Does or did any of you know him there? It was my brother’s second tour and he would have finished his tour there in about a week after he was killed. I Thank all of you there that were fighting for our country you are all American Hero’s as my Brother Ferd is also and who paid the ultimate Sacrifice he is missed greatley by his family and brothers in the United States Marines, and his Friends.

    • robert vann(will)wilson says:

      fred and i were best of buddies he tookmy place and was killed the same day a chicon got several vann wilson 352-685-2629 wife name is cindy

  9. Lanny Alan Roedel says:

    Ed Culp, glad you made it home brother. One more story you might be able to help me with. In late Feb, Fox 2/9 made our last raid in laos, area 611. I had falsiparum malaria for at least a week, I had a fever of 106. We were moving fast headed for the Vietnam boarder and I past out 2 hills away from where we were to be dusted off. Dust off spot I think was 1000 meters into Laos. With the enemy everywhere as you well know, my company couldn’t afford to stop and let me rest and all were too tired to help me. Not sure how many marines we had left but not a lot. Pop Ore deside to leave me there. They took my food, water, ammo, and the rest of the munitions I had, left me with a half canteen of salt water cause the corpsman thought I had heat stoke. They left me my M16 with a mag in it and pulled me off the trail a little. As you know, with the high fever and malaia, your out of your head if your awake, or out like a light. I want to know what all happen from the time I was left, till 2 friendlies stumble on to me and took me to a hill and got me medivaced. My company passed over the same hill but did not tell them I was down in the jungle. There were only 2 on that hill but said a few more was on another hill, I think they may have been SOG. I have no idea how long I was in the jungle alone, or what incounters I might have had, or how far I traveled on my own, if any. I tryed to stay awake and watch the trail so my company could make it out but I know I feel asleep a lot and not sure of all my thoughts. I remember hearing the friendlies and thought they were the enemy to0, but the fight was out of me and couldn’t raise my weapon, I remember the one saying, Where in the Hell did you come from? Not sure I even answered. He ask me where I was hit, I remember him checking me and asking about the blood. To this day it all bothers me and I need to know. Do you have any idea who those to guys could have been. They saved my life and I don’t think I thanked them. If you know or have an idea, or see a post somewhere, where they mention finding a marine, please let me know. Love you brother and hope life is being good to you. Semper Fi from THE BAMBOOVIPER, Lanny

  10. david sisneroz says:

    my cousin, robert ysguerra died during operation dewey canyon on 2/22/69, 3 others died from a mortar attack, have since talked to his platoon leader blaine moyer, he has some good stories about that operation, my heart goes out to all those who served in that operation. david sisneroz

  11. Rocco says:

    A good friend’s son was killed on or about Feb 10th in Dewey Canyon. His name was Tom Dickey from Concord, MA, PFC, Lima 3/9. I heard he was on point when patrol was ambushed…let me know of any and all details you know.

    I served Dong Ha, H&HS 3rd Marines, 1967-8.

    Semper Fi

  12. Jay Swartz says:

    I was a Corpsman with Fox 2/12 on Razor and erskine during operation Dewey Canyon. We were attacked on Razor and six Marines were killed. Does anyone happen to remember the date of that attack and the names of the ones who were ilkked. I have reesearched this and cannot find any mention in 9th Marine or 12th Marine reports.

    Jay(Doc) Swartz

    • james c dye says:

      doc I was wounded on razor I think. Got a nasty head may have been the man who attended to me. I did not get a purple heart as they said it was caused by fire in the hole. I did not know for sure . I wac air lifted to Quang Tri hospital for a few days then back to my outfit where I served the rest of dewy canyon, after that I don’t remember where we went. I want to thank you if you are the doc. that cared for me . JC Jay I have my medical records I will try to find the dates for you.

      • Jay Swartz Doc. says:

        I treated a guy with a head wound on Razor. He was a machine gunner. There was a Marine trapped in a hole and the NVA were trying to put a granade into his hole. The machinegunner got out of his hole and sprayed the brush so the kid could get out of his hole. That gunner got a gash on his head. I treated him.

  13. Wayne Forrest says:

    I was with Kilo 3/9 (3rd Plt.) during Operation Dewey Canyon. This was a very interesting read, quite informative. When your a grunt on the ground, you never know the whole story and how these operations with their stratagies are put together, your just trying to stay alive and protect your buddies. We were well aware the the operation was succesfull, but also knew we were getting our asses kicked also. Charlie was a tough son of a #@%$*. I was wounded during the operation, taking an AK 47 round in the butt, as a number of guys were either being hit in the head or fanny, I gladly axcepted the latter. In fact the round still resides imbedded in my left thigh as a reminder of my experience in Dewey Canyon. I wish all the veterans of the operation all the best, and my prayers are with all of you. Semper Fi

    • jim woodward says:

      wayne, I was a corpsman with Kilo Co. 3/9,and remember that day. We were ambushed and you were pinned down and I tried to give some cover fire,and fired at the smoke from thier rifles,turned to see where you were and got shot in the hand.I remember they couldn’t land the medavac and we had to go up in a sling. The medavac got hit but they got it down at some firebase.Do you remember our old Lt.,Lt. Davis got hit that day and was on that chopper? His father was Gen.Davis the commanding Gen.and came to pick up his son, and I rode back to the hospital with them.I don’t remember what hospital as the morphine was kicking in pretty good by then.I often wonderd about the marines I was with over there withwould like to hear about them if you have any info.Good luck and Semper Fi

    • John Devine says:

      I was on LZ Cunningham during Dewey Canyon. I was the PltSgt of W2-12 I had (6) 4 Deuce Mortars in the center of the LZ Anyway, I had a good friend in Kilo 3/9 his name was Sgt John Hoban. Did you know him? He got a Silver Star his first tour. I also took 3 tubes into Tam Boi to help the grunts who we getting beat up. I have pics if you want to share. I would like to hear from you.

      Semper Fi, “Walk Softly and Carry Concealed”
      John Devine
      SgtMaj USMC Ret
      Liberty Hill TX

      • Dean "Moe" Mottard says:

        Sgtmaj, I was a 46 driver with HMM262 (ET Numerals, Tiger Head Logo). On 7 Mar 69 I landed at Cunningham and apparently took mortars as we touched down.

        Got pretty banged up and burned, but until recently I thought it had happened differently. Were you there then? Do you have any recollections? Would appreciate it; thanks for your time and your service. Hope you are well.

        Also, one of my kids is going on a ‘crusade’ to visit ‘Nam later this year. Do you know of any good sources of Topo maps? Any hints would be helpful.



    • Robbie McGill says:

      Did you know PFC Robert(Robbie) Andrew McGill? This was my uncle and I’m trying to find any info about the time he served here he was only 19 years old was kilo 3/9. He was shot in the chest area on 2/26/69 and med flighted to ship Hope where he died on 3/4/69? Any info or remembrances would be great to hear
      Thank you
      Robbie McGill

  14. Henry (Newbie) Davis says:

    My name is Henry Davis, I was on Tiger Mountain after I volunteered to deliver the mail and stayed with my unit, I3/9. I served under Lt. Henry Gross, S/Sgt. Britt, Sgt. Miller, Cpl. Kudor Brown. I was choppered out, but we could not land because of the mortor fire. The pilot said he was going back. I asked them to get as close as he could to the ground and open the back of the AH-46. I then jumped out the back ( about 15-20 feet) with three mail bags. I wasn’t going back. I was told I was the first replacement in 52 days to join the unit. Semper Fi.

  15. Edward Gonzales says:

    I was with 9th Marine Hq Scout Sniper Unit assigned to protect Col Robert H. Barrow (later 27th Commandant of USMC) along with other snipers during operations Dewey Canyon and Apache Snow. The General has gone to be with his loved ones and fellow Marines. Semper Fi General.

    • Larry Spencer says:

      Hope you are doing well and have had a good life since Vietnam!

      God Bless

  16. Warner DeFord says:

    Hi Henry, I was the 1/4 (Tactical Air Control Party) radio operator for India on Tiger Mountain. I don’t remember your grand entry but the L.Z. was being handled by 12TH . Marines and I was just monitoring the net. You must have come in on the day that Doc Sprouse and I had our bunker blown up on us by mortar. He had just came in with the mail and I was laughing about a funny letter when it hit us. Staff Sgt. Britt was the acting Co.Gunny on Montana Mauler when we went out to assist the Army 5TH Mech. Div. I had a ball hanging out with him and we stole a ton of necessary gear off of the Army L. Z. and passed it out to our guys as they entered the position to be lifted by Hueys to the next ridge. I think you were the first Marine to come out to us but we got 4 new Corpsmen on Feb 15.

    • Jim "DOC"Stubblefield says:

      I met the company at Qua Viet on river r&r. Was on support of 155s the day Mac was killed. I was senior corpsman.

      • john young says:

        hiya doc .do you remember me I was a pr2(prick) field radio man. I got a piece of schrapnel in my ankle in my right leg,laughing you loosened my boot and pulled out the shrapnel,then you taped it in 3 places then put gause and told me to wear double socks and at night or when I could you told me to leave my foot uncovered and let the air heal t forming a scab and gave me a tetanus shot we were on a joint operation then and I was with 2/9 hotel 2 alpha. there was also another corpsman there too I can,t remember his name? if you remember this incident in dong ha bridge let me know ok? semper fi’ doc’ hope to hear from you john f young

  17. Henry (Newbie) Davis says:

    Hi Warner, Good to hear from you. The reason I volunteered to take the mail out to Tiger Mountain was because I was tired of filling sand bags at Vandergrift Combat Base. We had just completed a Post Office bunker that took about 15,000 sandbags. And I wanted to join my unit. When I first got to Quang Tri, that’s where I confiscated most of my gear, was from the Army units. Must thank them for their consideration. S/Sgt. Britt was one of the best, he watched out for all of us. Though, if you have contact with him you might ask him if he remembers when I went up to the club on August 5, 1969 to celebrate my birthday just before I went on an ambush. I told him that this was a h_ _ _ of place to be when your 19 yrs. old. Have a great day. Semper Fi. March 31, 2009

  18. Lanny Roedel says:

    Was any of you near the Laos/S Vietnam boarder when the Fantoms was bombing and gun ships were there before or on Feb 20, 1969? I would love to here from any one that remembers anything around that time, or any SF of any kind that was in that area. Or anyone that know of or found a Marine that was left alone in that area.

  19. Doc Wright says:

    I participated in both operations Dewey Canyon & Cameron Falls. I was a corpsman attached to 3/9 Kilo & Mike Co. and the CP group. I arrived in country in early February 1969. This is a tough story to tell, but I replaced a corpsman that was killed the night before in a ambush. If anybody has this persons name, or any knowledge of where he was from, etc. I would appreciate this very much. There isn’t a day that that goes by that I don’t think about being dropped off by the copter and seeing his body thrown into that same helicopter.

    Today, I’m attending many VA PTSD sessions. If you or anybody you know that are suffering from PTSD get help ASAP.

    • Cpl. Chapman Mike 9/9 says:

      Doc Wright I believe you took Doc Ortiz place in Febuary 1969.

      • Ken Miller says:

        Ken “Buzzard” Miller feel free to call @ (941-204-5153
        Semper Fidelis

    • Howard Brockway says:

      Hey Doc many years, too many lives, but still Marine Corp Proud. You had me medivac out of the bush for Maliaria. Went to Da Nang first then 5th. Hospital (Army) Cam Rah Bay. After 3 weeks back to the bush to catch up with my Unit.
      in Ashua Valley was on Cunningham the night it was overrun. Had to stand LP that next night , 19 and scared shi256t less. Hope you are well never did get to VA for PTSD or agent Orange, have tumors all over my body and difficult to breath for many years.
      Semer Fi,
      Sgt. Brockway,H 2292201

      • Virginia Hetcher says:

        My husband Edward Wayne Hetcher was attached to 2/12 Delta Battery. Little seems to be written about Delta Battery, He became acting gunnery sgt when one was wounded. He received the Bronze Star with Valor and a few other Marines received them in Delta Battery. I found his paper work and 23 years later he received it, while the Marines Reserveswhol bBattery stood at attention, as they read what he had done. His son saw his father get it, wow touching moment all stood in line to shake his hand. Most Marines knew other Marines by nicknames, his was either Stumpy or fondly called Sgt Major, does anyone hear remember him. He died in 2008 from liver cancer. He had just won 100 percent and only received his money for 4 months before he died. So the rules are a widow cannot get a pension unless the Veteran has collected for 10 years, or prove his death was service related. It took 2 plus years of denials but thank God I proved it was before I lost my house and everything. Ready for this try finding a doctor to give his opinion for less then 1000. Dollars. I couldn’t find any myself even though I knew many because I worked at three hospitals, thank God I have medical knowledge, the VA physician killed him in my opinion 3 single spaced pages of medical errors, malpractice, is not needed at the VA, because if you are harmed or murdered at any VA clinic etc, they take no liability or accountability you have to sue tthe united States, they have tons of lawyers try to find one to take your case, I didn’t, finally the VA is suppose to assist, until then no help from any VA group orVA until near the end they sent his medical records to a VA doctor who crazy as this sounds actually read the evidence, that I sent them, he agreed and said more likely then not it was the toxic water at Camp LeJeune that caused his cancer and fast death. The stress up to that was horrible. It still is on the desk of a JAG Judge collecting dust while the US stalls and denies they were responsible for the biggest drinking water contamination in US history. Little is in the Media about it, not newsworthy I am told where I live, there is a whole part of a cemetery near the camp, called Baby Heaven, so many babies died, they put 2 or 3 together. No interest is given by this countries citizens, they didn’t care then and as sure as hell don’t care now. I am going to DC on 11/11/2015 and stand on DOJ steps to demand justice. Obama secretly sent info to be used as a loophole so the the US can demiss the wrongful death claims using a state law, which makes no sense to anyone the Supreme court ruling siding with a corp that made into a toxic dump, this may mean, no justice or day in court for us. They sided with the polluters so the US could use that loophole, I can’t get other widows to join me in DC, heck, I can’t get a Marine Veteran to care enough to come. Pres Obama just agreed to give Kenya 1 billion dollars, and not a dime to the military men, women and children of Camp LeJeune. Sprayed and poisoned while fighting for ones country by our country. One Marines life was saved D he followed my advice and demanded a Catt Scan and found out he had a 3 pound tumor on one of his kidneys, please demand the VA give you a catt scan, this Toxic Water lays dormant in the body until later in life when you immune system is compromised, and cancer and rare diseases begin to show their ugly head. Most likely few will take the time to read this long post, but praying some do. Semper Fi to all you hero’s, may God keep you safe even now, a Marine Widow

  20. Brian Millwe says:

    Was wondering if anyone remembers Philip Norman Chittester KIA 2/22/69 during operation Dewey Canyon. He was with the 3/9

    • Robert Albertini says:

      Philip Chittester KIA 2/22/1969 was in A Co.1/9 I know because I was a Artilary Forward Observer attached to A Co. during Operation Dewey Canyon at that time I was carrying a radio. I was in the battle that Philip lost his life in but that was 46yrs. ago and I’m not great at remembering names but I probably knew him and a lot of good marines were wounded or killed that day, if you want to know more about what that day look up Medal of Honor recipient Col. Westley L. Fox on the internet he won his medal for that battle .

  21. Brian Miller says:

    Was wondering if anyone remembers Philip Norman Chittester KIA 2/22/69 during operation Dewey Canyon. He was with the 3/9…….Messed up my name. It is Brian Miller

  22. Doc Wright says:

    Brian, thanks for your comment. Do you have any further information about Norman Chittester? Was he a corpsman?


    Doc Doug

  23. Sanderson Hill says:

    My name is Sanderson Hill, Grunt Machine gunner with M 3/9. I was shot twice on March 3 1969. Wilson received the medal of honor that day. Is there anyone out there that remembers that day. Not all of the action report of that day is true. You can contact me at

    • greg rossoff says:

      Dearest Cousin Sandy

      I was reading this narrative about Operation Dewey Canyon quite matter of factly to honor You. Hope you are Ok.. Please drop a line. Love and Semper Fi
      Cousin Greg 2119945 USMC

  24. Gonzalez says:

    I was there C 1/9

    • Trina Poppens says:

      David, I am trying to gather more info on PFC Kevin Day from San Diego in Charlie Co 1st BN 9th Div in Dewey Canyon, died 2/13/1969 from mortar shell. Others who died that day/night was PFC Lynn Naylor, CPL Larry Whitehead, Maj. Donald Neil Nennon. Family was given some lame story of his death that never came close to the story of being in Dewey Canyon. Can anyone fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle???

  25. Henry Gross says:

    Great article,

    I was 1st platoon commander India, 3/9 during this operation. S/Sgt Wyatt Britt was the platoon’ s sergeant, Sgt Jones, platoon guide.

    My helicopter was the last one off of Tiger Mountain late in the afternoon. I really didn’t think we were going to get back to Vandergrift that day. I can still remember watching the men of India walk by me in the dusk at Vandergrift when we did arrive…some of their ulilities were so filthy they were literally in shreds. 52 days without a bath!

    I have never really revisited these memories. This was a fine article. It put the whole operation in perspective, maybe to much so. I’ll probably start to dream about the “bush” again and those I lost when we ran into the bunker complex on the operation.

    My regards to those men of India and especially to those of 1st platoon, call sign “Lucy”.

    Semper Fi

    Lt Gross

  26. Henry Gross says:

    To Warner and Henry,

    That army unit India was called upon to reinforce was the 1st of the 5th mechanized. It was the most fouled up assignment India was called up to do while I was in the field. We walked point for that outfit for days and days and never saw an NVA soldier. They would let us through and then hit the army unit.

    I remember walking off with most of the 782 gear on that hill in that perimeter and I also remember loosing two corpsmen, one to friendly fire from that army unit and one to an NVA mortarman who dropped three rounds on my platoon while we were waiting to move into a position on the army unit’s lines. In three seconds I lost my radio man “Kitten”, my corpsman, who the motor shell fell directly on and one of my squad leaders,Dino.

    1st Platoon was lead platoon onto that next objective, lifted in by hueys. Myself, my new radioman and three othe members of 1st platoon were on the first chopper into the LZ. Thank goodness it wasn’t hot. I remember looking back at the position in the army’s lines that we had occupied and seeing the NVA attacking the position.

    I apologize because this isn’t about Dewey Canyon. I had to get this off of my mind before turning in for the night. This is why I don’t go to India company reunions or hang out at the VFW or AMvets telling war stories! The dreams start up all over again.

    Good night to you all…and good night to you,GySgt Puni Mikaeli. The last I heard of you, you were firing an M60 into a bunch of NVA that were massing for an early morning assault on India and another army unit they (India) were attached to at the time.

    Lt. Gross

  27. LCPL JIM MANNING says:

    jim manning I co. tiger mountain S 2scout formerly with lima co. simper fi to all the brave men ooh rah you bad ass marines

  28. LCPL JIM MANNING says:

    lt. gross remember working with 1st 5th at khe sahn. was scout with Ico.capt arroyo our co. Our co. radio man killed in july cpl macmasters by rpg.was best friend in nam. wrote his parents and they drove to va. from Idaho to see how he was kia.still haunts me to this day.did you know lt. brossy was with cp group was a great leader as all of 3/9.was 18 when got to nam and would have been lost without such leadershift semper fi jim manning

    • Norma Mueller McGarrey says:

      Mike (Mac) and I were dependents together in Mtn. Home, Idaho. My dad was transferred when Mike was just 13, and it sounds like he grew into a good man. I saw his father at a 9th Bomb Wing (Mtn. Home) reunion in the late 90’s and found out about Mike. I think he was living in Boise at the time, but I cannot find my roster from the reunion. If anyone has his parents address, I would sure appreciate it. Thanks to all of you for your service. Back then, the military wasn’t as appreciated as it is today, but those of us whose father’s served (my dad was in pilot in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) understand the sacrifice you and your families made. Freedom is mostly definitely NOT free!

      Norma Mueller McGarrey

  29. Henry Gross says:


    I was in DaNang with a provisional platoon from 3/9 guarding IIIMAF when that happened. Mac was an outstanding marine. I think a lot about what happened during that action. Mac’s death must have been a blow to Capt. Arroyo also. I was Executive Officer of the Company when that happened but as I said, I was T.A.D in DaNang at the time. If I had been there I probably would have been in the bunker with Mac, since a new lieutenant had taken over 1st Platoon. Not being there probably saved my life.

    What can I say to you about loosing a friend…It never really goes away does it. We’re old men now but it never really goes away.

    Best Regards,

    Hank Gross

    • Ronald D Rains says:

      A school will be named after Alfred Mac Wilson August 20, at 6:00 PM in Odessa, Texas

  30. Warner DeFord says:

    Lt Gross with the Bianchi shoulder holster, I have a picture taken the day Doc Perusso was killed….. I thought that you and an NCO were wounded by a mortar and were medevaced late in the evening…. Jim Manning I have pictures of you and I think one has Mike McMaster in it…. I was told about Mike at Quang Tri after coming back from R&R and it was all I could do to not do serious harm to the guy that told me…. We had a new C.O Capt Cisneros at the time Mac was hit…. I was taking orders from Gen.Davis over the radio the last day of Dewey Canyon and had to stay on the ground until everyone else was on the last helicopter and when I told Vandy DASC I was there at VCB the operation was officially over…. You can find me on … Together We Served Marines . com.. I would love to talk to you guys.

    • sean coulter aka formerly Mcmaster says:

      Well hello heroes, all i can say is thank you for surviving and protecting the free. Ive always wondered what kind of person Mike was, I remember seeing a picture of him at Grandmother’s house in his marine uniform. Mike and I seem to look so much alike. I seem to be drawn towards him. The only thing that reminds me now of him is the movie hamburger hill. Call it crazy or what u will, but at least it brings me closer to him. Please reply

      • jim manning says:

        sean, was good friends with ur uncle and met ur grandparents after returning from nam. they drove to roanke va. to talk about macs death.He always mentioned a brother who was in nam with army. Was that your dad? if you ever want to talk let me know. jim manning

      • Ronald D Rains says:

        A school will be named after Alfred Mac Wilson August 20, at 6:00 PM in Odessa, Texas

    • sean coulter aka formerly Mcmaster says:

      Sorry, i am his nephew

  31. Henry Gross says:


    I gave that shoulder holster to a sniper and picked up an M-16 to replace the .45 auto, which I sent back to the rear.

    My radioman “Kitten” always stood within arms reach of me so that he could get the handset to me quickly. The motor round that killed Doc Perusso turned “Kittens” calves into hamburger and the airblast blew me down. Doc Perusso never knew what hit him. it landed right on him. He was right behind “Ktten”. “Dino”, a squad leader, was also wounded in the arm. He didn’t want to be medivaced, but I told him to get on the chopper!

    Good men all.

    Best regards Warner.


  32. Warner DeFord says:

    Doc Wright, I was with both Mike and Kilo prior to Dewey Canyon and remember two Corpsmen that were twin brothers in one platoon and the HM-3 in the company CP who was a charactor but the names don’t register any more….. I heard that the twins pulled off some extreme heroics during a bad encounter with a large enemy unit.

  33. LCPL JIM MANNING says:

    Warner was it your hole that took direct hit on Tiger Mountain? I remember M16 was destroyed and luckly you were not in it. Remember everyone walking and looking inthe hole.great to hear from you.Jim manning

  34. Warner DeFord says:

    Hello Jim… I have a picture of you holding the remains of that rifle the night we got back to Vandegrift…. Everthing Doc Sprouse and I had was riddled with shrapnel except for what we had in the immediate area where we slept… Mike was the first person I saw when I came out of the bunker but our ears were ringing so bad we hadn’t heard him yelling and waited to be sure no more rounds came in before we came out … I had put sand bags on that open corner that morning or Doc Sprouse and I would both have been KIAs… I read your tribute to Mike on TWS…. I have tried to get in touch with you for a long time and have seen post by you on a few websites…. Man you can’t believe all of the memories that are flashing through my mind right now…. My email address is on my profile page at TWS and I’d really like to talk sometime…. Red Baron…. Semper Fi

  35. Warner DeFord says:

    Lt Gross , That morning Sgt. Britt and I Walked from our position to the army C.P. and when 1st platoon got there I just hung out talking to Larry Peruso until Capt. Arroyo had me come to the L.Z. for the lift…. Larry had a strong premonition that he would die that day and pretty much told me his life story in a matter of minutes….. He was resigned to it and not afraid but knew it would hurt his family….. It took me 17 years to find his brother Russell who had taken him in and raised him when their parents died…. Was “Kitten” a black kid that Britt called Geraldine?

  36. Henry Gross says:


    “Kitten” was a white marine from the north eastern part of the country. He was quite a character with an “attitude”. The kind of guy you would expect to be a marine. His last name may have begun with “H”. For the life of me, I wish I could remember it. I can see his face in my mind as clear as day.

    He called me while I was stationed at Lejeune and we talked. He had recuperated from the shrapnel wounds and was working for the Post Office.

    I have a good picture of Mac and Gunny Robinson along with a third marine, all sitting or standing in front of a half assed bunker at KeGia Bridge. I wish there was some way to get a copy to you guys. I’m pushing the emotional envelope coming back to this website the way it is. Revisiting these memories are not the easiest thing for me. I did my best when I was there but sometimes feel it was not enough.



  37. Warner DeFord says:

    Lt. Gross….. You were a great platoon commander, it showed when I knew you were in Vietnam and it shows in what you just said….. I was at one time or another the 1/4 in every company in 3/9 and you are one of three P/Cs that I can both recall the name of and visualise…. My last memory of you was when you went to talk to Captain Arroyo at the end on March 28th 1969 and I could see the toll taken on you that day….. There was a guy with you that stopped to talk with me that had been wounded on Dewey Canyon and recently returned from being hospitalized in Japan…. You and he walked back toward the lines and I took a picture of you two standing on the crest of the ridge line scoping things out and seconds later a mortar round hit close enough to the two of you that he was wounded and had to be carried to where he could be medevaced…. He was the second person that day with a premonition that I’d spoken to…. I don’t think that his wound was life threatening but he kept yelling at me saying” I told you so….. You and he were standing so close I thought you’d been hit also…… The intensity and insanity of what we went through scrambles up the order and time of so much I saw or experienced….A lot of what I remember is bits and pieces but I do remember more about India company than any of the others and I remember you as being an intelligent competent and caring officer that should have have no doubts whatsoever about doing enough…… You might have known me as Dee, 1/4, DeFord or Red Baron………Semper Fi…….. And a hand salute to you sir………Warner DeFord

  38. Henry Gross says:


    Thanks for the kind words! They mean a lot.

    I’m having the same “bits and pieces” type memories come and go through my mind too. Sometimes I can put a supposed logical sequence to things and then I read things that you and the rest of the men who served with India have to say and I think “how could I have missed that”.

    A few years ago after I retired, I went to a psychologist to see if I could sort things out. I always had the feeling there were things lying just beyond the back of my eyes that wanted to become clear but could’nt. She said “the subconcious mind protects us from the realities we have experienced that could literally drive us mad if we had to deal with them again”. I think she was right!

    Again, thanks for the kind words and remember that you all had to deal with things, some of which are better left in the subconscious.



  39. lawrence noon says:

    i was with echo 2/9 on op dewey canyon for entire op,i remember looking into laos at night and seeing the nva trucks,i remember all the nva gear we found,they had so much,and i remember lz stud,i know that it became vandergrift,it was always stud to me semper fi,i’ll be in dc with 2/9 marine corp bd

  40. LCPL JIM MANNING says:

    semper fi marine hope u here from buddies in 2/9. have heard from friends from 3/9 and has been unreal. all 9th marines in dewey canyon all brothers. will will never forget the hardships and the fond memories of our brothers in combat;ohh rah from roanke va.

  41. Warner DeFord says:

    Jim. … Remember our little ARVN friends we ate and tried to sing Vietnamese love songs with that would make us coffee and bring it to us in the mornings ….. I remember that you and I were adopted by a couple of those little guys…. The one that hung around me was named Duc and was fathered by a Japanese father toward the end of World War II during the occupation….. They knew we had been without food for days and when there was any there was very little and they shared with us…. I often wonder how that little guy is doing….. S/F Take care brother. Dee in Texas.

  42. LCPL JIM MANNING says:

    warner,slightly remember them making us chow at night.remember that they were so noisy that lines were told to open fire to hush them up.Got quiet after that. not sure which op.we were on; think dewey Canyon.what part of texas are you from.Had friend from Brownvill visit me a few months after was cpl.martin.Wish had your E mail feel like I am tying up this site.Staff sgt.britt was in hole with me when mac was kia.gunny sgt.robinson was a hell of a leader. Do you remember lt.brossy? was from atlanta . will try to leave my E mail care brother. Jim

  43. Frank Harris says:

    Hello anyone out there was with 2/9 81’s during operation dewey canyon. I was on that one and it appeared that i was not going to get out of there. was in nam first tour for 13months and 20days when i got the call to the rear, what a wonderful call that was. But as it has been said, it something that no 18 or 19 yr. old should have to never forget it as i deal with it every day, Thanks to all who served, cpl Frank Harris Raeford nc first tet january 68 to april 69

  44. Lanny Roedel says:

    It is the BAMBOOVIPER stopping in to say Hi to my 9TH Marine friends, I made a trip to DC this year for the USMC Birthday! WOW! If you haven’t done it before please do. I guess none of us will ever be the ourselves again but the trip let me come closer. I ran into “BIG”, a Marine in H Co. standing by the 122MM that was taken on Feb 20, 1969, we talked, Frenchy, My friend was on point when those guns were taken and “BIG” was behind Frenchy, those 122MM had did a lot of damage to FBCunningham and tryed to hit Erskine. The almost got our patrol as they fired at Erskine and missed. That big tree with all the fire ants never looked so good as it did that day. But Those Boys of H Co. silenced those guns for ever! Thank you Hotel Co. by your bravery that day, I know you saved a lot of our brothers. One of their 122MMs rests in the USMC Museum. Being my first time there brought back many thoughts all at ones as the jets passed over head. I am not ashamed to say I had a weak moment that lasted a while, but as I sat on the wall a bearded figure put his arm around me and it had been a long time since I felt that safe. When I could speak, I ask if he was a pilot, he said yes, I ask if he was part of Operation Dewey Canyon 1969, again he said yes. I ask if he flew into Laos on a mission around Feb 20, again it was yes. As we lay hugging the ground with no cover that day, those pilots bravely hammered a safe path for us to get out of harms why, no dought it was him that made me feel safe that day as well. I didn’t even get his name. I will be there next year and hope many of you will be there as will, it would be nice to have all the old 9TH together again. By talking to big that day, I was able to find my friend Hallet aka FRENCHY, what a Marine he is. Hope my email is posted and write me if you wish. Semper Fi

    • David (BIG) Bigler says:

      Lanny, the guns we got that day were 85’s not 122’s. It was good to meet a guy that was a friend of Frenchies’, what a card.



  45. Lanny Roedel says:

    Sorry, forgot to tell you, the photographer for the Washington Post snaped some pictures of me at THE WALL. He placed one on Day in photos nov 12 2009 so if you would like to see what the BAMBOOVIPER looks like today, just type in those word and date and I’m the 3RD Photo. You will see, I’m still a very hansom 19 year old boy in a very weather beaten, raged body! he he Long Live My Brothers. Lanny

  46. hank Gross says:

    Well, another year has gone by.

    Just thought I’d drop by this site again and say hello and Merry Christmas to all of the survivors of that all expense paid vacation in the A shau back in “69”, sponsored and paid for by the 9th Marines.

    Thanks for the kind words this past year and I hope 2010 holds a lot of good things for you all.


    Hank Gross, India company, 3/9

    • Henry'Newbie'Davis says:

      Dear LT.
      I hope this message finds you in good health. Once again I want to thank you for your friendship and leadership when it was most needed.The strength of any unit depends on everyone watching each other’s back, both with your commander and the Marines with him. We had the best. We are there anytime, anywhere. Your friend and fellow Marine Henry ‘Newbie’ Davis.

  47. cpl. Robert Moxley says:

    I was with Delta 2nd platoon, head wound going up hill 1044 Feb 26th. Oh what a day! They finnally sent me home for good 12 June operation Utah Mesa. Going to the 1/9 reunion in D.C. in August, hope to see some of you grunts there! Mox out! email

    • robert vann(will)wilson says:

      hey you old jar head they called me will was david todds ammo humper give a holler have you ever heard from roynnalds 79 and poe i like to hear fron that bunch

  48. Charles Lemons says:

    I came to LZ Cunningham as a young (short-timer) courier, along with a generator for the ground controlled experimental bombing system that was placed there. We had a large raydome behind our very large sand bagged bunker. We dropped bombs from the ground, mostly at night, from the BCC bunker. I remember the 0700 enemy rocket attacks each morning. You could set your watch for their beginning. I remember the emergency extraction day when we attempted to remove the big guns. May God bless all who served. Thanks to all of you who have shared thoughts and memories. Chuck Lemons (aka maddog)

  49. David C. Kent, Jr. says:

    There was a article written in the VFW magazine March 2008 on this situation. By Kelly Lanigan.E-mail Sappers Take a Beating at Liberty Bridge. Scroll down to Aug 21, 2009. I was there. I also have access so much more materials.

  50. Harry R. Nevling says:

    I was one of the “Packyderms” (CH-47’s) from the 101st that re-supplied you guys at Erskine and Cunningham. Many days we were out there without Marine air bring ammo, food, and water into the FSB’s for the operation. On the morning of 28 Feb we went into Laos and picked up four Marine dead and several wounded off a low hill north of Route 922 then several more wounded a kilometer or so east on the hill right on the road. As we were leaving the pathfinder requested food and we dropped three or four cases of C-rats on the road. The next aircraft in was another Packyderm late in the afternoon with more food and water. That was ‘Wierd’ Harold, who was later killed on the east edge of the A Shau.

    We received .51 and AK fire between the two locations but got Marine guns ships to keep the NVA heads down and successfully got to the second location. We took out Marines to Charlie Med at Vandegrift. Hope they all made it okay.

    Semper FI guys. That was one hell of a rough area. Glad I wasn’t on the ground!

    Harry ‘Rat’

  51. LCPL JIM MANNING says:

    hate to think of what would have happened without u guys! thanks from a marine grunt. SEMPER FI

  52. Radolfo V. Lopez says:

    I was with D/1/9; does anyone have photos of the attack on the mountain where all the materiel was found? there were many bunkers with new ak-47’s, SKS rilfles,machine guns and tons of ammo; when we were attacking the mountain along the Ho Chi Minh Rd, a fuel dump or ammunition cache exploded and dirt rained on everyone, but we kept up the attack and finally secured the area. please sent to me at; semper fi

    • Sheila Smith says:

      Rodolfo, my brother, Gilbert “Gene” Smith was a Second Lieutenant during this if it was Feb ’69. Do you remember him? If so what do you remember? Thx.

      • Trina Poppens says:

        Sheila , I read about Gilbert in the book “Don’t tell America” that was recomm. by others on this site. Try to get ahold of it threw the Publ. in Canada. Its cheaper that way.

      • Dr John Trapp says:

        Sheila ~ I was the acting XO of D 1/9 during Dewey Canyon and the FO. I remember your brother well. He was an outstanding platoon commander. That battle that Radolfo referenced was Hill 1044 that was fought on Feb. 26, 1969. Your brother led the lead platoon that took that hill. I believe he received the Silver Star for that fight. Give your brother a “semper fi” for me.

  53. Mike Staples says:

    Hey Ed, just saw your posting about FSB Erskine that blew up, and you guys were all running around in the jungle below waiting for EOD to clean it. I was one of the two EOD guys up there cleaning it. My partner got hit with some flack during the cleaning and got choppered out. I got left alone. Was given a direct order to stop working but figured you guys were going to be in big trouble if I did. So I kept working alone for the next two days. Later on, it was between a court martial and a bronze star. Got the bronze star (but was shaking in my boots for a while). Glad you made it through.


  54. Henry 'Newbie' Davis says:

    Lt. (Hank Gross) I would like to say there are only great Marines when there are Great Leaders, you, SSgt. Britt and Sgt. Miller were three of the best. We had some bad times and we had some not so bad times. One of the good times was when you brought us back a bottle of (I believe) was Silver Fox Whiskey or maybe the good stuff- Jack Daniels. I will never forget your leadership or your friendship. All of us were proud to have served with you- anytime, anywhere. Your friend and fellow Marine- Henry Davis.

    Semper Fi- Keep The Faith

  55. Henry 'Newbie' Davis says:

    Warner DeFord, I do remember that your bunker had been hit. The first Marine I made contact with was our radioman and his name was Henry also, he told me that a bunker had been hit and you and Doc Sprouse were in it. Shortly after, SSgt. Britt, who was about 6’1+, stuck his head in Henry’s (radioman) lean-to and asked who I was. I said to him I’m Henry Davis, who are you. He said, well Henry Davis, Your commander (Lt. Gross) wants to see you. I don’t remember what Henry’s (radioman) last name was, but we were laughing that his, Lt. Gross and mine name was all Henrys’. Thought it might be a good sign and I have to say, it was. They ( my squad leader Kudor Brown and others) gave me the nickname ‘Newbie’ because I was the first new guy that they got on Tiger Mountain. Take care and Keep the Faith.

  56. Jimmy Stubblefield HM2 says:

    I was the senior corpsman with I 3/9 on 27 July 1969 with Capt. Cisneros, SSGT Wyatt A. Britt And Mike McMasters. I was there about 20 feet from “Tank” McMasters was killed. Hello LT. Goss, LT. Brosey and the rest of India 3/9.

    • sean coulter aka formerly Mcmaster says:

      Do u have any stories or pictures of “Tank” Mike, my uncle?

  57. joe sebelist says:

    Would like to hear from members of foxtrot 2/12 that were on tun tavern and vandegrift fire sup-port bases as well, as cunningham. This would help with some closer that I badly need for my ptds.

  58. hank Gross says:

    Henry Davis, Jim Stubblefield!

    It’s good to see you guys are still verticle. I’ll be 65 this month and have lost six friends over the last eight months to everything from heart attacks to cancer. Sort of feel like I’m down in my hole on Cunningham waiting for one of those 122mm NVA artillary rounds to drop in with me.

    It never ceases to amaze me how this site and Operation Dewey Canyon still brings people together. I’ve looked at a lot of these blogs on this site about Vietnam and non of them has had so many people keep in contact with each other.

    You guys were talking about SSgt Britt…I remember when we were on an operation with the 1st of the 5th mechanized…an Army unit we talked about back up the page. One of the platoon fell over from heat exhaustion, and SSgt Britt took off his pack and threw the Marine over his shoulder and carried him to the top of the hill for a “dustoff”. I was going to be a smart ass and carry his pack and mine up behind him. They almost had to medivac me too. His pack contained a whole case of c rats, a portable record player and some PRC25 batteries to power it,, a half a dozen 33 1/3 rpm ALBUMS by Diana Ross and the Supremes. The man new how to live in the bush!

    Best regards to all.

    Hank Gross

  59. Warner DeFord says:

    Hank Gross, I remember Sgt Briitt carrying the new guy and thought you were going to fall out any second. My ass was kicked or I would have helped you… I ran across a recording of a guy named Larry Lawler who spoke of Kitten, Mike Hugger was his name… The first time I talked to SSgt Britt he was listening to Country Charley Pride and telling all of the brothers that he was listening to soul music….Happy Birthday……..Warner DeFord. Oh Yeah,, SSgt Britt was 6’6″…..

  60. hank Gross says:


    Sgt Britt used to take a lot of good natured flak about Country Charlie Pride from the soul brothers in the platoon.

    I really thought I was through that day. I would’nt have fought to hard if they had tried to throw me on that “dust off”. Thanks for Kitten’s name…I can still see his face in my mind’s eye, but could’nt remember his name. I hope he is still alive and doing OK. He was a good radio man and a fine Marine. If he would’nt have been standing so close behind me when that mortor round came in, I would have gotton the blast. Some times I wonder how I’ve lived such a charmed life.

    Best regards to all,

    Hank gross

  61. Warner DeFord says:

    Hank….. I always thought we all were very lucky in India co… We were sent to take and occupy the the main objective of the operation and it was said to be a suicide mission yet we met with a large force once and when I called for a flare ship they sent an AC-47 and we never had to fire a shot.. I remember only one fire fight on phase one and on phase 2 a pretty bad one,trucks and tracked vehicles less than 100meters from us kept me awake and on the radio to call in support but we stayed quiet and lost Sully when we moved out that following morning….We were busy moving for those days and it is amazing to me that we weren’t wiped out being that we were so out numbered….Captain Arroyo had done another tour with India I believe as a platoon commander and knew what he was doing and kept us out of trouble on that Op. Take care Sir….. Dee

  62. Lou Nettles says:

    my brother Joe Nettles was in the Dewey Cannon operation,he still lives in Jacksonville,fl. operating a collision repair center. he was with the 1st batalion 9th marines he told me about this site,I really appreciate the sacrifice you made to make this a great nation,willing to fight for other peoples rights to be free. sincerely a receiver of that right Lou Nettles

  63. sean coulter aka formerly Mcmaster says:

    I probably dont belong here, but i wanted to say thx to u all, for when i leave a place i think of the fallen heroes that can no longer go there.
    If you can, can u post a pic of mike mcmaster for me? He is my uncle. And also can u think of a memory u had with him and share it? My email is

  64. Gable says:

    Does any of you marines in 1/9 hotel company remember my brother Fred Lafay Pettigrew lll at Dewey Canyon he was killed Today FEBUARY 11TH 1969 IN DEWY CANYON OPERATION .Would welcome any information you have to offer.

    • Ed Culp says:


      To help you with your search, Hotel Company was 2/9

      I checked the virtual wall and found your Brother. He was 1/9 Delta Co. I was with Charlic Co, transferred in the field to Delta, just before Feb 22nd and back to Charlie on the 24th or 25th after the big battle on the 22nd.

      Check the Virtual Wall site:

      I am sorry, I can’t remeber him, but this may give some leads.


    • Dr John Trapp says:

      Cpl. Pettigrew was the first Marine killed from D1/9 on FSB Erskine. We were hit that morning by a fairly large NVA force and I believe he was killed in his bunker by a RPG. He was well liked by everyone.

  65. Ken Miller says:

    I had the Honor of serving with Mike Company 3rd Battalion 9th Marines 2nd Platoon, Squads Call signs Underdogs-Freelove- Bushbeaters on Operation Dewey Canyon. My nickname was Buzzard & served in Bushbeaters as Squad Leader. On 2/10/69 we were ambushed on a Platoon size Point Patrol for the Company as we were prepared to set up a night perimeter on a small finger knoll. To those Brave Warriors that gave their all that night leading to the next day I have never forgotten your Bravery or Sacrafice. We had Puff called in for support through the night and reinforcements reached us the next morning after humping all night to reach us. Forgotten names but your faces will be with me for eternity, God Bless our KIA’s your not Forgotten.

    Semper Fidelis

    • Cpl. Chapman Mike 9/9 says:

      I was a squad leader in first platoon, snoppy. What a night thank God for puff, I remember you
      I am glad you made it back to the world.

      Semper Fidelis

      • Warner DeFord says:

        Do you guys with Mike company remember a guy called Hoot Gibson who said he was a ridge runner from the hills of Tennesee? He and Cpt Hinkle were both bitten by bamboo vipers and lived to see another day..

    • Bill Schneider says:

      Pardon any intrusion…Cousin David Schneider was killed on Feb 19, 1969 with Mike Company..still miss him…any knowledge of him? Thanks for your sacrifices.

  66. james c dye says:

    I was on lz cunningham during the sapper attack I was assighned to hq as a wireman and radio operater I was off duty that night but our radio antennas were knocked out by enemy fire. Pete Hyla and I got them put up during the fire fight and sapper attack. when day light came I was sitting on an ak 47 mag and there was chicom in my fox hole.Thank you 9th marines on the line you are the bravest men I have ever known. I received a head wound months or weeks earlier on lz razzor so my memorey is not so good. jc

    • Warner DeFord says:

      Hi J.C…. India Company had just reached the top of Tiger Mountain the day of the night attack on Cunningham… I was at the highest point inside the perimeter on Tiger Mountain and remember listening to what was happening on the TAC Party frequency and watched the AC- 47 gunship drop flares and fire in support of you guys… It looked pretty cool from where I was but sounded like hell over the radio… I had ran an AC-47 mission a night or 2 before that when we were encircled by what was told to me by the observer on board the aircraft was a battalion sized unit… We were lucky the guys on lines had heard movement or it would have been bad. No one on either side on the ground fired a shot…They were still carrying off dead and wounded when the sun came up and when they were all gone we moved on out to reach the top of Tiger Mountain…

    • Al Kyle says:

      I remember you as one outstanding Marine. I think you came from Montana and grew up on a ranch. You were one of the few in our platoon who could work as a radio operator in the fire direction center and also as a wireman.

      In addition to the sapper attack on Cunningham I recall another time when we were at Vandergrift and you helped save a Vietnamese civilian from drowning. I believe we recommended you for a Navy Marine Corps medal but do not know if that came through.

      Semper Fi
      Al Kyle
      Communications Platoon Leader

      We had an

  67. Randy Estes says:

    I was with 3/9, M company, 3rd platoon from July 1968 until February 12, 1969. I was a squad leader and when I had to leave country because my brother had come over, PFC Ed Hock took my place as squad leader. Ed was KIA on Feb 12, 1969. He was one of the two that was KIA from that attack after crossing the Da Krong. I served the rest of my tour in the states and never believed that Ed was really dead until I saw his name on the Wall. I loved Ed like a brother-my only regret is that I never got to Washington State to see his parents and tell them what a great Marine he was. God rest his soul!

    • Jim Rice Doc says:

      I was with 3/9 M company, 3rd platoon Xray,Zulu and Uniform. I and another
      Doc treated Ed on that day.We brought him back with CPR, but he received
      round from a snipper to the back of his neck as he was diving into a incoming hole, the round entered his head and was pronounced brain dead back in rear and was taken off life support. I remember him well his girlfriend sent him a letter everyday counting his days off to go home.

      By chance were you the radioman in Mike Co?

      • Warner DeFord says:

        The Mike Company battalion radio operator on Operation Dewey Canyon was Mike McKenney..

      • Trina Poppens says:

        Jim do you remember treating PFC Kevin Day Charlie company 9th Div who died 2/13/1969 after crossing the river or in evening attacked by NVA. He was killed by mortar fire.

      • Ronald Rains says:

        Jim Rice doc Do you remember Alfred Mac Wilson 3/9/3 MOH?

      • Robbie McGill says:

        Anyone remember Robert Andrew McGill he was a PFC died 3-4-69 but received his wound a few days before? This is my uncle I’m trying to find people he served with
        Thanks Robbie McGill

      • Ronald D Rains says:

        A school will be named after Alfred Mac Wilson August 20, at 6:00 PM in Odessa, Texas

    • Robbie McGill says:

      He was kilo 3/9 marine

  68. Bill Schneider says:

    My cousin David A. Schneider was with Co. M, 3rd Battalion and was killed on Feb 19th while on night perimeter guard…he was in country just 6 weeks. If not too painful, would like to hear from folks who might remember him…I want to archive something more that the news clippings we have from his hometown…Hamilton, OH. Thanks to all who fought with him…miss him dearly.

  69. John Kothan says:

    As a Marine that was born was on Parris Island 1983 3rd Bn and later served 16 yrs before injuries forced an early retirement as a Gunny. I want to thank you all for your service, tell you welcome home you did a great job and most importantly what you guys did was help develop and force doctrine and a mindset that helped me keep my Marines alive in the Gulf War and Somalia. Obviously different “clime and place” than Vietnam but many of the things you guys did became our tactics and discipline. I was a FO/Naval Gunfire Spotter and later Counter Intelligence. Anyhow, many of my first Plt Sgts, E7s E8s and E9s were Vietnam vets. they knew their “stuff” and they instilled in my generation a way of being a marine that we all carried through our careers.

    I also had the honor of working under Col W. Fox who received the MoH for action in this operation. He was an amazing Marine, one we all looked up to and he always made sure we knew that he represented all of you. When he spoke of OP Dewey Canyon those listening knew that he loved and respected you all.

    I am now a 46 yr old executive at my 3rd Silicon Valley corporation and the discipline and work ethic I learned as a Marine has been responsible for carrying me this far. God Bless you all and I cannot tell you how proud I am to have served in the shadow of your valiant efforts. In many ways you are all a father to me. you are all heroes, you are all protectors of our nation. you all did an amazing job. Again welcome home we are glad and honored you are with us.



  70. HARRY POTE says:

    my brother fred pote was kia in dewey canyon. i believe there are a few marines from 1/ 9 around this board, would like to hear anything about what you went through ! i was only 14 yrs old at the time, and was following all thati could read, but to no avail ! in my adult life have studied dewey canyon and its effects on the viet nam war, not alot out there, so much the government hides. was hoping the proud men that were there would fill me in ! so proud of all of you that served during a major conflict ! happy for all of you that were able to return home ! god bless, harry pote

    • mikeflanagan says:

      Harry: I knew your brother, my email is mikeflanagan98@yahoo. com.I will be happy to share with you my memories of Freddie. Some of my recall of the operation comes and goes but I will answer any questions to the best of my ability. It seems like most off the respondants on this site have ptsd myself included but I,ll share what I can.

  71. mikeflanagan says:

    we are almost to feb 22 so I will have to write this on the 21st,I wont be worth s*** tomorrow. I hope that everyone who went with Col. Fox that day has found some kind of peace. I have for the most part but that terrible day still haunts me. My prayers and thoughts are with you all. Semper Fi.

  72. Howard Brockway says:

    Semper Fi to all! It was a walk down a pathway not traveled in my years. Great to hear of our success in the Ashua Valley! I was a combat Eng. attached to Kilo 3/9 and Bravo 1/9 durning Dewey and the last few ops before leaving the Nam. We destroyed several bases including Cunningham, Vandergrift buildings runway steel destroyed ammo, supply’s before heading to Dong Ha to board ships to Oki. Miss my buddies who I served with!!!
    As life would have it my son served in the Corp and was a drill instructor in PI. You may have seen a poster of him that says ” just think of me as your guidance counselor ” that’s my son! SSgt Kevin Brockway.
    Till we all meet again,
    Sgt. Howard Brockway 2292201

    • Robbie McGill says:

      My uncle was kilo 3/9 remember him by chance? PFC Robert (Robbie) Andrew McGill he was wounded on 2/26/69 med-flighted out to medical ship Hope and succumbed to his wound 3/4/69
      Any remembrances or info on fellow kilo 3/9 marines would be awesome I’m trying to find out more abut my uncle

  73. mikeflanagan says:

    I was with A 1/9 Nov. 68 to Oct 69. My email is Anybody out there?

    • Rob Shaw says:

      Was with A1/9 from late January, til late August when i was shipped back
      to the “World” from Camp Swab on Oki. with malaria. Got hit 4-9-69 when
      we were on Hill 37 at Cam Lo. Remember SSgt. Guy and GySgt Duier?

      Welcome home Brothers.

      • mike flanagan says:

        Hello Rob: I don’t often check this site;but I am glad you made it home. Doggone I am sure I now you. I was in first platoon and now the years have affected my memory. You and I and a host of others got off of Okinawa the same way; via malaria. I made it till October. When were you hit on 37. Was it when those dinks blew up that bridge just west of us on 9? I remember missing that one as I recall the majority of us had gone off on a sweep with some tankers. I remember we ran a lot of small team stuff out of there at night but with all that wide open territory they were always slipping down from the North. I never enjoyed sitting on that dusty ass little hill, but it was better than humping the boonies. Semper Fi Rob.

  74. Roger Spurgeon says:

    I was there with C 1/9

    • mikeflanagan says:

      HI Roger: Glad you made it back. I hope that all is well with you, after that op we all desrve it. Semper Fi.

      • Roger Spurgeon says:

        Thanks and back to you. Hope you are doing well too. Semper Fi.

  75. Steven Quigley says:

    Puni Mikaele, GySgt, USMC (Ret) passed away Friday morning from an apparent heart attack. It is my understanding he was awarded the Silver Star for action in Operation Dewey Canyon. He told many stories about he service in the Corps.

    He was at his security desk at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA when he past. He is survived by his wife in Seattle, WA and many family members.

    • Warner DeFord says:

      Sgt Puni Mikaele was an amazing Marine… I don’t care how bad a situation was, how hot or tired we were when humping the hills for hours at a time while loaded down with weapons and gear. He would be sweating as much as any of us but with a huge smile on his face… That smile encouraged me to keep on going many times that I thought I couldn’t take another step… I know he will be missed.

  76. […] Puni has been a beloved member of our community for several years as the Northwest University Site Supervisor for Puget Sound Security. He was a proud Marine Corps veteran who had received the Silver Star in Vietnam for his valorous action during Operation Dewey Canyon. […]

  77. Al Sargent says:

    I was with Echo battery 2/12 on FSB Cunningham during Dewey Canyon. Any other Echo battery marines out there?
    Also, I’ve seen mention of a Dewey Canyon reunion, can anyone guide me to more information on the reunion?

    • Roland (Ron) Flemke says:

      Hi Al, I also served with Echo battery 2/12 on FSB Cunningham. I was on Gun Three the night we got hit by that sapper attack. Our gun was firing `firecracker rounds’ (grenades) into the wire on the far side of the LZ.

      Unfortunately don’t know anything about a Dewey Canyon reunion.

    • John Devine says:

      Hey Al,
      I believe we have served together. I was initially with Echo 2-12 in 1968
      on LZ Sandy. I have been in touch with our CO, Then Captain PG Clark.
      I was on LZ Cunningham during Dewey Canyon Jan -March 1969 with Whiskey Btry 2-12 4 Deuce Mortars. I was the Plt Sgt.
      if you want to talk more, my e-mail address is
      I also have pics I will share of Cunningham, as I suppose you do too.
      Hope to hear from you.

      Semper Fi,

      John Devine
      SgtMaj USMC Ret.

  78. Roger Spurgeon says:

    About midway through the operation was my introduction to combat with Charlie 1/9 and I being straight from the states was thrown into culture shock. Never fully recovered. God bless my brothers. Sure would like to hear from friends of 1/9 and Ron from 3/9.

  79. George Jensen says:

    Hey Lannie, Terry, I was with you in Fox 2/9 with Pop Orr and Sgt. Harness. Glad to see you guys are still kicking. After we got off Erskine and back to VCB I swore I would never go hungry again on an empty stomache. You know my stomache has never been empty since. I’m in Ballantine, Montana. Any idea if Sgt. Harness is still around?

    • Lanny A Roedel says:

      GEORGE JENSON, MY PHONE NUMBER IS 417-622-3569, call if you see this brother. Pop died few years back cant find Harness but if you do have him contact me. I know where Chuck Freeman, Leo mingace, Dave Moser, Paul the M60 gunner, and Lt Buchavich, are. Spilling sucks. Chuck, Leo and I will be in DC for USMC BIRTHDAY, VET DAY, if you can make it call so we can see you. It is mostly Dewey Canyon 1969 Marines that are there. It is great. Hope You are doing well. To all the others keep kickin, call if you want. THE BAMBOO VIPER , LANNY ROEDEL, LOVE ALL MY BROTHERS

    • ED HARNESS says:

      George, I was trying to remember the dates & events of my tour in Viet Nam when I came across your blog. I am sorry that I can not picture you, Lanny or Terry in my head, but am grateful that you remembered me. I am honored that you would think of me and your fellow Marines after 43 years. I hope that you are in good health and that life after Viet Nam has been good to you. You picked a good part of the country to settle down in. I was sorry to hear that Sgt Orr passed away. He was a good man. As for me, I live in Texas and have had a good life. Hope you take a few moments and e-mail me to refresh my memory a little bit.

  80. Sheila Smith says:

    My brother, Gilbert “Gene” Smith was there. Anyone remember him? Can you tell me about what you remember?

  81. Trina Poppens says:

    Does anyone know of PFC Kevin Day attached to Charlie Co 9th , MAR, IIIMAF rifleman, Killed on 2/13/1969 during Dewy Canyon mission? Others who died that day were, Maj. Donald Kennon, CPL Larry Whitehead, and PFC Lynn Naylor. They were near a river, middle of Da Krong. Can someone fill information of that day?

  82. Henry Gross says:


    I thought Historynet had shut this site down a few years ago. It’s good to see that it is still up and running and there are still survivors of Operation Dewey Canyon alive and breathing. We’re old men now…I have 4 grandchildren one of which wants to learn how to shoot my .45 auto. He knows his grandfather was a Marine but that’s about all. I sure hope he doesn’t have to see what we all still dream about or have to ask himself if it was all worth it like we do. A lot has gone down for the Marine Corps since we wrote our part of it’s history. And a bloody part is was.

    I hope all of you that are still alive keeping this memory safe are well! Semper Fi to all, especially those of 1st Platoon, India Company whom I still dream about.

    Lt. Henry Gross

  83. Warner DeFord says:

    Semper Fi back at you Henry Gross… I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Dewey Canyon and the other operations as I usually do every year about this time…. I don’t think you may remember me but we had kind of a standoff over which of us was going to be the last one to get on the CH-47 we left Tiger Mountain on… I wasn’t trying to be difficult but was taking orders directly from General Ray Davis who was riding overhead in an OV-10 Bronco and was told to make sure to let him know everyone was on board the last chopper before I boarded… Does that ring a bell with you?? Yes sir, we are old men… I too have 4 grandchildren but I’ve never mentioned the Marine Corps or Vietnam to them… I’m happy to have been able to hear from you again…. Dee.

    • henry gross says:


      I’ts good to hear from you again! I’m glad you told me to hall my ass on that chopper or I probably would be still wandering around on that damn mountain top. You know, when we went through that operation, the marines who fought on Iwo Jima were only in their late 40s. We’re half again as old as they were when they lived with their memories from that fight.

      I have a friend who was an artilleryman 10 years after I left the Corps and a conversation about the fight in the Ashau came up over a cup of coffee. He looked this site up and brought it to my attention this morning. It’s good to see there are marines and relatives of marines that still keep the memories alive. When the last one of us are gone, no one will remember what happen. Our exploits will be relegated to history…As long as someone is alive to remember a person, that person is alive!

      Enough philosophy…have a great Thanksgiving. Me, I’ll be dreaming of not having the right ammunition for my M16 again but it will have been worth the conversation.

      Semper Fi


      • mike flanagan says:

        Lt.Gross: I was with Alpha 1/9 and I have basically the same dream. Wrong ammunition;frustrating as hell isn’t it. I do not believe we ever met but I thought it was strange that we both have the same dream. I have a lot of different ones but they all have the frustration theme.Anyway I am always glad to see a new comment on here but we are getting older and soon someone will post the last. Semper Fi .

  84. henry gross says:


    Whenever I’m under stress of some kind or talk a lot about Vietnam,
    the dreams start. I always wake up with a tremendous sense of sadness. Sometimes I have to leave the bedroom and go to the living room and watch Orick vacuum cleaner commercials on TV to clear my mind. I know there are things my mind has completely blocked out.

    I really believe I was killed during WWl or WWll as a marine trying to take a hill of some kind. When I was a kid…6 or 7 years old, I knew about every type of weapon the Marine corps used in WWll. I could draw pictures of them. My radio operator “Kitten” used to wake me up when we were in the bush because of a recurring nightmare I would have about “taking a hill”. I would be yelling and screaming about it, and as you remember, you could hear a twig snap 100 yards off at 0300 when you were on radio watch in the bush.

    The mind does strange things to keep one from going insane but at 3 o’ clock in the morning, sitting in my living room, sometimes I wonder!

    Semper Fi and have a good Thanksgiving

    Hank Gross

    • Warner DeFord says:

      Henry Gross: I am quite sure you will remember the fire fight your platoon was in while on a patrol just down hill from our first position on Dewey Canyon… Captain Arroyo left another platoon on the perimeter and the company CP went down to assist you guys…John Povalilaitis was on point and had walked up to a hooch where a NVA soldier was cleaning an AK-47 and in the process of reassembling it when John took aim and his M-16 didn’t fire.. David Sullivan rushed forward and took the guy out just as he had drawn a bead on John… I’d gotten an 0-1 Bird dog up over our position and pointed in the direction of the rest of the enemy that had taken off.. The pilot went crazy, shot all of his 2.75″ WP rockets at them and had no way to mark them as a target when the F-4s arrived… The Skipper and CP were heading back up to the LZ with dead and wounded when the F-4s arrived and whoever was directing them in the 0-1 on an UHF radio said north instead of south…. Being strafed by 20mm cannon wasn’t ever on my agenda of things I wanted to experience but it happened while I was screaming and cursing into my handset at the aerial observer over head and the second F-4 was on top of us so low that I could feel the heat from the after burners… He pulled off without firing or dumping ordinance on us but the Skipper had a 4″ scratch on his left bicep that didn’t seem to bother him and a 2nd Lt artillery FO had a badly cut finger from shrapnel from the first one and went pretty wacko over it… In 1988 I found out the FOs radio operator was shot by a sniper that had gotten into the perimeter while assisting the FO on board the CH-46 that was picking up medivacs… I was standing in the open bringing in the helicopter and never heard the shot that was fired…There hasn’t been a thing that has really scared me since the close call with the F-4s except when it reoccurs while I am asleep.. Like you, I am awakened at 3: AM a lot…

  85. henry gross says:

    I remember that morning very well! Lost close to a squad along with an excellent squad leader named Sgt Tooyae (I’m spelling it the way it sounds, not the way it should be spelled). Dodging empty 20mm cannisters is no fun when they are coming through the trees at 200 plus miles an hour.

    Interesting thing though…I never had that dream again after that firefight!

    Semper Fi

    Hank gross

  86. Rob Shaw says:

    For anyone wanting to take a trip down memory lane, there’s a book called “Don’t Tell America” written by Michael R. Conroy. It was first published in 1992 and then a second printing in 1994. Taken from after action reports, along with first hand story’s it tells the story of Dewey Canyon in detail. Since it’s out of print, i had Trafford Publishing up in Canada print me a copy last year. Believe i paid $43.00 or so for it. Well worth the bucks. Might help to answer questions you have and bring back memories you’ve forgotten, Anyway, just some food for thought. Semper Fi. A1/9 68-69.

    • henry gross says:

      Thanks Rob,

      Good to hear from a former member of “The Walking Dead”! A
      former Ocs classmate of mine was in 1/9 and lost his life on Dewey
      Canyon. One of the regrets I have about the operation was the fact that I was asked to tutor him when we were at the Basic School. He was having trouble with the 81 mm mortar and the company commander asked me to tutor him. He went on to graduate and received the Navy Cross postumously. I believe his last name was Christman or something similar.

      I remember he and his wife, sister or gilfriend, I don’t know which, sitting together at Travis AFB before we all got on the plane to head to Okinawa. The married officers sort of clustered together for their wive’s sake. I often wondered if I hadn’t helped him out, would he have been set back and still be alive.

      Semper Fi

      Hank Gross

      • mike flanagan says:

        Lt Gross: You surely have to be referring to Lt. William Christman. He was the xo of Alpha 1/9. Tall, knd of sandy hair, wore glasses. He was a good officer and we all thought a lot of him.He was kia on 2/22/69 when we locked up in battle with a bunch of nva. I was only a rifleman but like you I still question my actions. If only I had done this or that would the outcome be different. Those thoughts are hard to live with and I have never been able to put them away entirely. Anyway although you served with a different battalion you might want to check out the 1/9 website. I believe there is a photo of Lt.Chrstman attending mass on a fsb Shiloh.

      • Rob Shaw says:

        You are right, his name was Lt. Christman with 3rd. plt. Was killed Feb.22 1969 when two of or platoon’s ran into a reinforced NVA Company while on a water run. Our CO, Lt. Fox was later awarded the MOH for that day’s battle. Very bad day, worst then most out in the valley. Did you know your written about in the book i posted about earier? Semper Fi. Rob Shaw.

      • mike flanagan says:

        Lt Gross: Sorry I mis identfied Lt. Christman. Lt. Leroy Herron was the xo of Alpha co. My memory isn’t that good anymore.

    • mike flanagan says:

      Hello Rob: I probably know you. I was in 1st platoon A 1/9 from Nov.68 to Oct 69. I kind of keep in contact with a few 1/9ers: Arthur McGaughey,John Anthony, Mike Hester, Oscar Borboa and Floyd Druschel. Anyway that book had some inconsistencys and I inquired of Oscar Borboa if Michael Conroy was on the ground in Dewey Canyon. If I am remembering this right Conroy was not the author but rather a corpsman wrote it. This Conroy fellow I think was kind of a shady character and is now doing life in an Oklahoma prison. Anyway there is a fellow that is a book reveiwer for Amazon named Bernie Weis. If you can poke around on Amazon and get in contact with him he knows Conroy. Also you can probably find a contact for Oscar on the 1/9 website. Osacar was interviewed for the book and has just amazing recall.

    • Trina Poppens says:

      Thank You for the book recommendation. I found my lost friend in the book and now I know what happened to him and the hell he and others had gone through. God Bless you all.

  87. henry gross says:


    I’m going to have to get a copy of that book. I see there is one on Amazon and on Ebay. Warner mentioned a firefight above. For the life of me, I can remember crawling up the finger of land we were caught on. The fire was so heavy, nothing was standing any higher than a foot and a half when we were stopped dead and 2nd platoon moved through only to be stopped farther up the hill.

    After we pulled back to let the jets drop their ordinance, it got dark, to dark to try again that day. the next morning 3rd platoon moved out for their turn and the NVA had pulled out during the night. I cannot remember the bunker complex, the dead NVA soldiers my point man shot or anything that happened that next day. If there is an after action report filed for that fight, I definitely need to look at it!

    Thanks for the info on Christman. It fills in some blanks that needed filling in.

    Semper Fi

    Hank Gross

  88. Warner DeFord says:

    Lt.. Henry Gross: Here is a link I found a few years back… It has the daily situation reports from each company in the battalion… They aren’t completely correct though… The day HM3 Sprouse and I were knocked silly by what was reported to be a mortar round that was actually a rocket it was also reported us as being WIAE which we weren’t… I am sure it was the day we were mortared before crossing the river and was first hit by RPD fire.. S/SGT Littlejohn was the first WIA…. I was with the snipers waiting for a chance to call in CAS after we’d gotten in a couple of CH-46 medivacs to pick up casualties and like you had picked up a M-16 from one of them… I had to bring in another one with a fresh supply on ammo while everyone spent what ammo they had suppressing enemy fire… You gave the Luchese holster to the sniper once the shooting stopped… It was the 13th of February… The next day David Sullivan was shot while on point and I called in snake and nape so close I was sure we’d have taken friendly losses.. I went down to see if anyone had been hurt and everyone had singed eyebrows and lashes but were OK and laughing about it….

    • Warner DeFord says:

      S I forgot the link.. Here it is…

  89. henry gross says:


    Thanks for the site…


    I ordered a copy of the book.

    Semper Fi gentlemen

    Hank Gross

    • Warner DeFord says:

      I’ve been searching for the book since way back in the 90s…. I placed an order for it also… Thanks to Rob Shaw for the info about where to buy it… I have had put in a request for it at many times over the years and pretty much given up hope of ever getting to read it..

  90. Henry gross says:

    Warner, Rob,

    Got the book yesterday. Read a third of it last night.
    It gave me a better pespective of what was really going
    on. Recognized a few names and places .Filled in some

    Really came away with a feeling that I was part of something
    much larger than I’d imagined. I guess way down deep
    I always hoped I wouldn’t go to my grave just a “Joe” that
    bumbled his way through life, never being part of something
    extraordinary. Anyone that was part of that adventure
    shouldn’t have that problem.

    Take care all and I hope you all have the right ammo for your
    weapon…Semper Fi

    Hank Gross

    • Warner DeFord says:

      It was the day following the short round from a 122mm field gun landed on our LZ and then following rounds came down on Cunningham that I realized we were into something larger than I’d experienced in the 6 months I’d been there… All of the FOs and TACParty people were requested to submit grid a coordinance they thought the rounds were fired from and provide an explanation for their reasoning.. The next day the ridge line I’d given the coordinances for was bombed to hell by a B-52 mission.. I’ll bet you remember that.. That last day there was more aircraft on my frequency than the total I’d had to keep up with in the whole time I’d been in country…There was even an Air Force communications plane relaying the transmissions back to the states.. Yeah it was big..

  91. henry gross says:

    Finished reading how Fox’s company was decimated and how Christman died. Had to put the book down after I finished. Don’t think I’ll go back to it for a while.

    Met fox briefly in the Officers Club on Okinawa once. Had no idea what happened at the time. I became friends with a couple of older guys that used to hang out at the local MacDonalds in the morning and have a cup of coffee before going on with their day. Had no idea both had been shot down during WWll, one twice, and were prisoners of war. Nothing was ever said about it by them. I can only imagine what they all had running through their minds in the middle of the night.

  92. robert vann(will)wilson says:

    delta 1/9 m60 guns jan68-69+ attached to 2nd plt love all of the walking dead couldn’t have asked for better brothers go to the va hospitsl in gainsville fla alot when i wear my cap or shirt usually get complements

  93. Jason Heyman says:

    I am doing research on this battle for a college thesis and I would be honored to relay some of your stories. I have been an active duty Marine for 17 years and served twice in Iraq with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. I also spent nearly one year working in Laos (POW/MIA Accounting Command) attempting to find our brothers who never made it home. I was happy to give back what I could for those of you who fought so bravely. Merry Christmas to all of you and Semper Fidelis.

    GySgt Jason R Heyman

    • Trina Poppens says:

      Sgt. Jason, Thank you for taking on this project. In my own research, I found family friend PFC Kevin L. Day who died 2/13/69 in Dewey Canyon firefight killed by Mortar or RPG. He began fleeing San Diego to Canada running from the draft but had a change of heart and returned to join the Marines. His father was retired military and he didn’t want to disgrace his family. He was only in Nam for 5-6 wks before he was killed. I found his story in the Book “Don’t tell America” written by a marine in this operation. I have not found any other marines who remember him though. The book gives graphic details of his death and the overwhelming hardships and Hell these men had to face in jungle warfare. It’s unbelievable!
      Do this story justice, please. Trina

  94. Henry Gross says:

    Good to hear from you Gunny and Semper Fi to you!

    Merry Christmas to all of you that have visited this site and to all former members of the 9th Marines…have a good New Year and when you dream, may you all have the right kind of ammo for your weapon!

    Semper Fi

    Hank Gross

  95. Warner DeFord says:

    Merry Christmas to all of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children of 9Th Marines… I hope this website is still around when all of us are all dead and gone…

  96. robert moxley says:

    I was a team leader in Lt Smiths platoon, wounded in the head (ak47), Lt Smith sent me and my team to lead the attack, we killed 34 enemy on that hill. Lt. Sims (kia) at the bottom of the hill was awarded the silver star, I was awarded the bronze star after knocking out the machine gun. Lt Smith was a great leader and admired by all, he had his stuff together. Left country for good after being severly wounded on op Utah Mesa.

  97. robert moxley says:

    Sheila, I remember him well, I was a team leader in his platoon. He was a great leader and well respected by all.

  98. Ken "Buzzard" Miller says:

    As time passes I still see the faces of \Lost Brother’s\ & they will never be forgotten.

  99. Lastraglio ( aka ASTRO ) says:

    Hey dye
    It’s me astro we ran lines together from singnal hill down to stud.
    I’m in contact with Renner he is in Stroudsberg P.A.
    I’m still here in N.Y.C. (astoria).
    Hope all is well it would really be nice to hear from you it’ 44 yrs.
    We had some good and bad times to talk about.

    your buudy always astro

    • Phil T. Listener says:


      Hello to another NYC kid. My family is from Woodside. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, I live in NH with my wife and 2 sons. How is Astoria. I remember it from the good old days of the ’50s and ’60s since my grandparents lived down by Astoria Park and the pool.

      I believe my cousin Mark Argenzio was with Alpha 1/9 in Dewey Canyon (he always referred to Ashau Valley). He was heroic (as were all of those USMC men). He lost his arm from a 50 caliber bullet wound. I remember him saying how they went on a mission down from a hill to the valley to get water and were hit on the way back up. Many of his friends died that day. He passed away back in 1987.

      He and my brother Chris joined under the buddy plan in February of 68. Mark was 18 and Chris was 17. Immediately after Paris Island Mark went to AIT then Nam. Chris couldn’t follow that path with Mark because he wasn’t 18. Both are now gone.

      I hope life has treated you well.

  100. Lastraglio ( aka ASTRO ) says:

    LT. Kyle how are you sir?
    It’s me astro had the honor to serve with you in Nam w/ HQ 212 68-69.
    Ihave been in touch with cpl renner he told me he ran into you at quanico ,It’s seems we all came down with malaria.
    Hope all is well. are you in contact with dye I would really like to hear from you guys.

    Semper Fi

    • Al Kyle says:

      Hi Astro, good to hear from you. It has been a long, long time.For me, falciparum malaria showed up a few months after I returned to the US, and sometimes I think it comes back for a few days. I guess that is when I saw Frank Renner in Quantico. I sent Dye an email a while back. He is now a very successful sculptor and artist, specializing in wildlife & western art. You can find his studio web site. Say hey to Frank Renner for me.

      You guys were all outstanding Marines.
      Semper Fi
      Lt Al Kyle

      • astro says:

        Hello Sir
        Thank you for your reply
        Just want to thank you again for your leadership and to let you know after you rotated out none of your men lost we all made it out ok .
        I was Med evacted out of Oki Malaria almost killed me ,but all is well now. I’m strill living in NYC
        I will say hello to Renner and Iwill give him this sight so we can all stay in touch 45yrs is to long.
        Semper Fi

    • Astro says:

      Hey LT
      I recieved a email from DYE today he would like to hear from you his email is
      I want to thank you for the info . I sent him some pictures of the guys.
      If you would them I have bunch that renner and I put together you are welcome to them.
      I don’t know what made me start searching for my buddies on FEB16
      but LZ Cunninham keeps coming back in feb tough times they were. But your leadership got us through that thank you sir.
      Semper Fi

      • Al Kyle says:

        Astro, thanks again for following up. I send my only photo of Dye, Renner, Delacerda, Launiere, Joyce and Earl to JC. Sorry, could not find one with you. Also, found Renner on Facebook, and sent him email. If you give me your address, i will send photo to you. Also, thanks for sending yours. Best way is via email It is strange how so many memories come back after 44 years. Semper Fi, AL

  101. astro says:

    Hey Phil
    I joined in sept 1967 i had just turned 17 9/12 joined 9/27 I also had to wait to 18 to go.
    I was on the lines the night they came thru the lines I saw many guys that were hit an killed that night but have agreat sense of pride to have fought along those marines that night saw guys do things of bravery that made me proud to be a marine .
    I am sorry for your loss , Be proud of him 9th marines nick is the walking dead .
    astoria is still agreat place to live ,astoria pool is here.
    take care and thanks for your reply.
    found 2 guys I served with here waiting for reply

  102. Astro says:

    HI again LT
    I justgot an Email from DYE he would like to get in touch with you .
    his email adress is .
    I have a bunch of pictures that renner and put together of the guys if you would like them I would be more than happy to get them to you.
    Thank you sir for the help of contacting Dye.
    FEB of 1968 was a tough time for all of us,Realy don’t know what made me to start searching but I’m glad I did 45yrs is tooo long I always thought about the guys everyday.
    Thanks again Sir

  103. henry gross says:

    Good to see this site is active again! As long as those still alive talk to each other, those that are dead will not be forgotton. That time will come soon enough.

    Semper fi,

    Hank Gross

  104. Astro says:

    Well spoken Henry
    I found my LT from on this site and one friend
    We served with 2nd Bn 12 mar. on LZ Cunningham.
    It’ only been 45 years but it’s a dam good feeling to find them
    exchanging pic’s brings back old memories good and bad.
    Take care. Semper Fi and welcome home


  105. mike flanagan says:

    Semper Fi.

  106. Rob Shaw says:

    To all my A1/9 brothers who’s lives were lost 44 years ago today while on the water detail out in the A Shau, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. Slow hand salute…… Semper Fi. 2nd Plt A1/9.

    • Phil T. Listener says:


      I believe my cousin Mark Argenzio was with Alpha 1/9 in Dewey Canyon (he always referred to A Shau Valley). He was heroic (as were all of those USMC men). He lost his arm from a 50 caliber bullet wound. I remember him saying how they went on a mission down from a hill to the valley to get water and were hit on the way back up. Many of his friends died that day. He passed away back in 1987.

      Does the name sound familiar. We are from NYC.

  107. Ken "Buzzard" Miller says:

    To all My Brothers of Operation Dewey Canyon,

    I had the Honor of returning to Viet Nam for the 30th Anniversary Of Dewey Canyon 1999 with Brother Grunts of 9th Marines supported by 3rd & 12th Marines. I’d be remissed not to mention Air Support, Medivacs, Puff The Magic Dragon etc… I guess my reasoning for this post is the Anniversary time of Dewey Canyon. I have been enlightened by your Posts, especially this year being 44 year Anniversary. Speaking for myself this year 2013 Jan, Feb & getting into March have been my most difficult years of thoughts of Lost Brothers, MIA’s & sounds, smells & I guess being what is around the corner of Life. I as you have Brothers that don’t want to be contacted etc……….I am giving my every effort to contact them & let them know there not alone. God Bless the Memory we have of Lost Brothers & to all of You the Honor I have to be Amongest your Ranks.

    Semper Fidelis Marines & Corpsman

    Ken \Buzzard\ Miller
    Mike 3/9 2nd Platoon Bushbeaters
    Squad Leader

  108. Henry Gross says:


    I was a Platoon Commander with India Company during the operation. Can you remember the names of the Platoon Commanders with Mike Company? There was a Platoon Commander with your company that was a classmate of mine during OCS at Quantico. The last time I saw him was when we had all pulled back to Cunningham because they couldn’t resupply us in our positions out in the bush due to the weather. He stopped by my position to see if I had any spare cigarettes. He hadn’t had any for a long while. I gave him some of those 5 pack boxes of Kents we got in our C rats. This memory comes back to me at the strangest times and I have always wondered if he he made it out all right.



  109. Ken "Buzzard" Miller says:


    God Bless You & the Souls of India 3/9, 9th Marines & Supporting Units of Dewey Canyon. My Platoon Commander was Paul Armes, a True Leader of Marines. I am Humbled to have had the Honor of serving under him as a Squad Leader of Bushbeaters call sign, 2nd Platoon Mike 3/9. I will also @ this time connect with Warner Deford’s comments of recollections of me. God Bless You & Those of Dewey Canyon. I went through ITR with 2 Marines named Carmack & Boyer who were assigned to India 3/9 as 0331 MOS……………..Do you Remember them..?

    Semper Fidelis………….Deweycanyon at

  110. Terri Fetters Arnold says:

    Hello to all..

    My father was here also his name is Curtis Fetters, some called him C. W. Fetters. He also doesnt talk much about this time of his life. I completely understand why. He also had malaria twice while there.. I dont know any of you but I feel you are family because you were my fathers brothers.. I pray for all of you who were there and to the ones who still serve today..I’ve asked him if he had friends, buddies there and he won’t say. He just said there wasnt time for that.. He was also part of the walking dead- Dewey Canyon. looking for pics anf i have some also I can share.. GOD BLESS YOU ALL..

  111. Astro says:

    Hey Terri
    I think you can concider every marine on this site your uncle marines are brothers for life.
    I was on LZ Cunningham with the 12th marines I was a radio operator and handled fire missions from 9th marines and sat on the lines with them the night the enemy came thru the lines It was a hell of fight that night .
    alot of us got malaria on the operation including me.
    Be proud of your dad he’s been through alot and some guys just won’t talk about it that’s why sites like this are great guys open up .
    I found 2 guys I served with here and we excghange some pic’s and It brought back memories from 44 yrs ago.
    God bless and thank your dad from me
    Astro (NYC)

    • Terri Fetters Arnold says:

      Hello again, i have some of his pics, would love to share..and would love to see others as well.. how do you share photos? We live in Arkansas always have. I will find out from him who he remembers off hand. Thank you for replying this has been a blessing just to talk to someone who has walked the path dad has.. Thank you again to all of you.. God Bless.

  112. Lauren Campbell says:

    My name is Lauren Campbell and I am a student at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. My English class is reading The Things They Carried, and is now beginning a project memorializing soldiers whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. We are commemorating soldiers and I received Corporal Fred Earl Pitts’s name. He served and died in Operation Dewey Canyon.
    I was wondering if any of you knew him and would like to share any memories of him, such as any experiences that showed his personality or character, that I could include in my memorial?
    Thank you!

  113. Henry Gross says:


    That’s really a nice thing you are doing. I don’t have any information on Corporal Pitt’s but if I were you, I would go through the responses and reply’s on this site and when you find an e-mail address go ahead and e-mail the Marine. Don’t be afraid to do it. Explain where you got his e-mail address and if he can help. There are a lot of guys on this site that are members of http://www.Marines, together we If you can find one, they will put his name out there and see what kind of response they get.

    Good luck, and if you come up with information on the Corporal be sure to let us know what you found out.

    Semper Fi

    Hank Gross

  114. mike flanagan says:

    Hello Lauren: I looked up Fred Earl Pitts on the wall to see which unit he was with. He was with M 3/9, held the rank of Lcpl . You have to be pretty specific with the 9nth Marines because at that time we were spread out over a large territory and many Marines were best known by nicknames. Also keep in mind that Fred would be 68 years old now and many of his friends may be gone. Dewey Canyon was a long time ago and a lot of us are just not able or just do not want to remember. Anyway maybe someone who was in 3/9 will remember Fred and respond to your query. Best wishes Lauren.

  115. astro says:

    Happy Easter to all.
    semper fi brothers

  116. Ronald Rains says:

    I was not a marine but had a good friend thru life and in Vietnam that was 3-9, he was kia march 3 1969. Looking for guys that might have known this hero PFC Alfred Mac Wilson
    thanks US Army 69-71

    Ronald D Rains

  117. Ronald Rains says:

    did you know Mac Wilson KIA 3-369? MOH 1970

  118. Warner DeFord says:

    Alfred Mac Wilson was with Mike company 3/9… I was with them two months before Dewey Canyon began but I don’t remember him….

    • Ronald Rains says:

      Mac’s sister lives near me and has his medal of honor on her wall. We are trying to get the three new schools in Odessa, Tjerry builtexas named after Mac and another MOH recipient SSGT Marvin Rex Young and the third after Odessa native Chris Kyle. Mac’s sister is always looking for guys that might have served with her brother. thanks Ronnie

  119. William Whitley says:

    Do any of you 3/9 Marines remember David Teutsch, KIA 3/11/69 Dewey Canyon. He was my best friend I went to 1/9, last time I saw him was on the LZ at Stud getting ready to leave for the Valley?

  120. Henry Gross says:

    Another Memorial Day coming up. Hope all is well with everyone that I’ve spoken to on this site over the years!

    Semper Fi to you all of you old men!

    Hank Gross

  121. Tom E. in care of Carl Lipps 0311 says:

    Did you know a Corpsman, (Doc Fig) ?
    First or second week of March 69, Grunt,Carl Lipps, was walking tail-end-
    Charlie down a hill on a water run. They were ambushed. Carl was hit with some scrap metal from an RPG. Doc Fig stopped to check on Carl and moved on down the hill. As Carl was being medevaced out, he heard that Doc Fig had been (hit bad). Not knowing the Doc’s real name, he has always wondered if he made it out.
    Thanks for your time.
    Tom E.

  122. Rob Shaw says:

    Tom E…. Sounds like Alpha’s water run on 22 Feb. Do you know who your your friend, Carl Lipps was with?

  123. Tom E. in care of Carl Lipps 0311 says:

    Rob, Carl was with Kilo 3/9. It was in Dewey Canyon

    • Rob Shaw says:

      Tom E Google this 3rd Battalion 9th Marines (3/9)- US Marines in Vietnam. Two Corpsman were killed during Dewey Canyon. You should be able to see if their date of kia, match’s when your friend got hit.

      • Twoitsie, Ritch says:

        Rob…This is Ritch Twoitsie and if my memory is correct, you’re the Rob that attended probably the first Alpha 1/9 re-union here in Phoenix AZ

    • Robbie McGill says:

      My uncle was kilo 3/9, would you guys happen to know him PFCRobert (Robbie) Andrew McGill, he was wounded 2/26/69 med flight end ou to med ship Hope and died on 3/4/69. Just trying to find out anything I can on him

  124. Peggy L. Stormer says:

    My cousin was killed in Dewey Canyon also on 2/2/69 –
    Norman Chittester.
    I never knew anything about this Operation until I found the Vietnam Virtual Wall. I also have learned alot through this article.

    Did anyone out there know my cousin?

    Thank you Marines !

  125. Peggy L. Stormer says:

    I posted wrong date, he was killed 2/22/69

  126. Rob Shaw says:

    One in the same, Ritch. Can’t believe that first “reunion” consisted of what, 7 to 10 people? Lol !! 23 years ago, geesh. So, how’s the world treating you? How’s Oscar doing these day’s? Rob.

  127. Robbie McGill says:

    Hello all, I’ve read many of these posts..please help if you can
    I’m looking for information on my uncle PFC ROBERT ANDREW MCGILL he was killed in Quang Tri province and I believe was in Dewey Canyon. He died 3-4-69 but was evidently wounded days earlier and taken by helicopter to medical ship “hope”….Does anyone know my uncle???Did you serve with him or were you with him in his final days? He was only 19 when he was killed.
    My email is.

  128. Robbie McGill says:

    We’re you guys kilo 3/9 my uncle was and I’m trying to find fellow marines he served with, his name wasRobert (Robbie) Andrew McGill, he was wounded 2/26/69 medevaced to med ship Hope where he then died on 3/4
    If you know him or any other kilo 3/9 marines can yu let me know, I’d like to find any info I canon him
    Thank you

  129. Trina Poppens says:

    Robbie, I looked your Uncle up in the book called Don’t Tell America by Michael Conroy- no longer in print but on page 406, it is said he died of sniper fire. I bought this book through a store in Canada and sadly, it describes our friends death too. But at least I now know what happened. If want more details I can write to you from the book. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Robbie McGill says:

      I’d love that Trina Poppens, his brother is my father and it would be very interesting to find answers to questions that this mom and siblings may have wondered all these years and never knew. My email is
      Thank you

  130. Ed Culp says:


    I would love to see those photos. I have posted here years ago about my experiences during Dewey Canyon and remember being in on the weapons cache. All my photos were stolen along with the SKS I had picked up from that cache. I had cleaned the one I picked up, and Col Smith (I think it was) asked me if I would give it to some Army General that flew in on a Huey (it had a blue heart on the nose) but he made sure I got another. Then some pog in the rear stole it while we were out on the next op.

    Thanks, Brother, I didn’t know your brother, sorry to say. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

    1/9 68-69 – all of Dewey Canyon. Served with all of the companies as a Bn radioman.

  131. Ed Culp says:

    Henry, Hope this finds you well and safe. I just read your above and saw a name I have wondered about since ’69. You mention Kudor Brown. I remember a guy that was with Bn, (1/9) that we called ‘Cooter Brown’ that was normally in the rear, as he was with HQ company. Cooter always had stuff for us when we came out of the field, took great care of us! I made a run with him in a stolen 6×6 to Quang Tri, to a Army repair depot. He put on an ARMY uniform, and Lt bars, went in the office and got us a large refrigerated cooler loaded on, and we took it back to Stud and put it in the ‘club’ he had traded the Sea-Bees for some of our captured big weapons, to build for us. I never saw Cooter after we left Nam for Oki. Can this be the same guy? I always thought he was a POG, and didn’t go in the field. I was also H&S, Comm. Normally attached to the companies during ops as Bn radioman. Would certainly like to know if it was the same guy. He was short, glasses, and I believe he was from KY or Tenn. He talked about his dad being a mechanic on river barges, said the because he ws so short, his dad would have him go inside the cylinders of the tugs to help hone them after rebuilds. Crazy.

    Anyway, Semper FI.

    1/9 68-68 H&S Comm

  132. Ed Culp says:

    David. What a day this has been, two names that I haven’t heard in awhile.

    I knew Robert in an strange way. He and I were in boot camp together. PLT 252, March 68 till graduation.

    About a year ago, I was in one of my depression funks that always come about in February, and because I felt I had to, dug out my graduation book for the first time in 20 years, and decided to run every name of the other boots through the database for The Wall, and see how many had survived.

    I was knocked out of my wits when I found that out of the whole platoon, there had been only one man killed in Nam. Robert M. Ysguerra. That alone was shocking enough, but the story continues.

    I happened to know Lt Moyer thru the Marines, Together We Served website, and happened to get a message from him, I think it was on my birthday, a few weeks after I had gone thru the names in the grad book. Contacted him and we got to chatting, and I mentioned all that happened on Feb. 22nd, and other things.

    Eventually, while talking about Dewey Canyon (I was with 1/9 in Nam, and was a Bn radioman, attached to Delta that day, had gone down to help pull Alpha out of the shit in the afternoon) We chatted and for some reason I mentioned that I had done the book thing, and that only one Marine from my boot platoon had been killed in Nam, and told him your cousins name. Well, he freaked, I freaked, and when we exchanged information, he told me the story about how Robert had been killed early that day, trying to get to a better location for better radio communications.

    He also told me that he was always in contact with your family, and I offered to copy the pictures in my book that I were sure was Robert and send to him, to get to your family.

    I did that, with only one picture that I wasn’t positive of it being Robert, I know he got those to your family.

    It was just too strange, that he and I were in 1/9 together! And of out of the whole boot platoon, he was the only one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

    God Bless Him, and I am only sorry that I didn’t know him better, from what Blaine told me, he was a dedicated Marine and a good man.

    In case the pictures didn’t make it to you, I would be happy to send them to you via email.

    I apologize for the being so long in coming, I don’t come here too often, it’s just too painful sometimes.

    Semper FI, Robert.


    Ed Culp
    1/9 68-69
    H&S Comm.

  133. Howard Brockway says:

    Hey Sgt. Major,
    Would love to see pictures of Cunningham seeing how I helped build it with C company 3rd engineers and was there for the Sapper attack! My email address is
    My son proudly served as a drill instructor for 3 yrs at PI 1st. Bn. Semper Fi brother!
    Ps I only have a few pics left after hurricane sandy so it be a blessing if you could share them.
    Sgt Howard Brockway 2292201/1371

  134. brian lewis says:

    my dad is karl lewis who was 1/9/3div, he was in operation dewey canyon…did anyone know him…

  135. Phillip W. Saylor says:

    I was in the Nam from 10/68 – 07/69. I served with Bravo Company 1/9 in Dewey Canyon. I can’t seem to recall the names of a lot of my fellow marines nor all of the names of the operations and/or the hills and such we were on. Would love to here from any of my brothers who were there. God Bless all of you!!!

    Semper FI

    • Warner DeFord says:

      I had a friend named Jerry Pina that was with Bravo 1/9 at the same time you were.. We got home at about the same time in September 69 but weren’t able to get together.. It was difficult to interact with other Vets for years.

  136. John F. Holm says:

    Trina.I was your brother’s medic. He was indeed killed by an enemy mortar round and did not suffer. A case of being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. If you want to write me e-mail is

  137. John F. Holm says:

    Trina Poppens, Hope you are still checking this site. I am Kevins “Doc” e-mail me if you wish. Doc John

  138. Lanny Roedel says:

    I hope this year all the 9th Marines from Operation Dewey Canyon plan a trip to DC for the USMC birthday and Vet Day. lots are there already each year and all should go cause in all of history no brothers are closer than us. Love you brothers and fight to the last breath and dont give up on life. Simper Fi Lanny Roedel ps Ed Harness I still would like to make contact with you. Also anyone that remembers me.

  139. Jim "DOC"Stubblefield says:

    I was standing 20 feet from Mac when he was Kia. Hello to Henry, Wyatt, and
    .Also to Capt Cisnero I was the corpsman handling the mortor plt.

  140. Jim "DOC"Stubblefield says:

    Simper Fi to all of India 3/9 including the corpsmen

  141. robert vann wilson says:

    we should know each other I was wpns plt guide Pettigrew took my place I don’t think he lasted a day bill o\shes was one fine combat marine they calld me will back then

  142. Mike Keenan says:

    Hi Phil:
    We were in the Nam at the same time. I too was with Bravo 1/9 about the same time. I was the Corpsman for the second platoon along with Doc Caskey and our radio man was Woody Postal. Your name seems very familiar to me. Where we together?

  143. Hank Gross says:

    Hey men…it’s been over a year since I was able to find this site! I recognize some of the names from last year, so that means there’s a good chance you all haven’t assumed room temperature yet! Semper Fi to you all. I still find myself drifting off in my mind and calling in artillery or mortar fire. My wife looks at me and asks me where I am….the Ashau Valley again? I just nod my head and she understands…. after all these years, it never leaves.

    I don’t know when I’ll be able to get on this site again. Sometimes it pops up when I search for it, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s taken a year this time so at my age…69…who knows when I’ll get back… so, remember…none of you are forgotten. There’s still an old Marine calling in arti with all of you on his mind!!

    Semper Fi

    Lt Henry Gross…1st Platoon, India Company, 3/9

  144. Charles l Smith III says:

    Welcome home Brother ,Did you know a Corpsman Robert E Petschke Jr.
    by any chance.

  145. Henry Gross says:


    Didn’t know him personally …he was with 3rd Platoon,Gulf company. He was killed with three other marines, 12 other Marines were wounded in the engagement. The only two Corpsmen I remember were killed in an operation India Company was sent on after Dewey canyon…one by friendly fire from an Army unit, one by an 82 mm mortar round, which took out my radio man, and two other Marines in my Platoon. I’m sorry for your loss!

  146. Charles E. Ross says:

    After reading all of your post, I am hoping all that reads this can give me some simple answers to a simple question: Was Chemical Sprayers used by any soldiers’ while stationed at Dong Ap Bia Mt, or during operation Texas Star (fire support base Rip Cord), or Operation Dewey Canyon II. My father was with Co. C 2nd Bn. 501st Infantry (11C) attached to the 3rd. May 1969. per his Military records he operated in the three compains listed above. His Name was SSG Ernest Ross.

    Any Information sent will be greatly appreciated, and thank all of you for your service.

  147. MIKE rOBERTS says:

    I was with C 1/9 1st platoon (Lt Biggers platoon leader). I was wounded by an RPG right after we capture a NVA half track towing a 122mm cannon.

    • Ed Culp says:

      Mike (and other Marines and family) here is the official USMC Archives photos that have survived the years. I have to start this from one of the two photos I am in.

      I’m also in the one with all the water jugs. I had actually sent that page from the Sea Tiger, home, and it survived, still have it!

      For some of you that have never seen these, it will reawaken a lot of memories. There is a photo of that tow vehicle, and a couple of destroyed 122’s which had been captured by 2/9. Both of the ones captured by 1/9 are still around. 1 in the USMC Museum, the other is at Fort Sill (if that is accurate info).


      Happy birthday, Marines!
      Semper Fi.

      • JOE MCGREGOR says:


      • Ronald D Rains says:

        Marvin Rex Young US Army and Alfred Mac Wilson have a school named after them Wilson Young Medal of Honor Middle School! Dedication August 20 at 6PM in Odessa Texas

  148. JOE MCGREGOR says:


    • George Jensen says:

      Little Joe:
      I remember you very well. Remember Dec. 23 more then I want. I was new to the company. Just finished cleaning my rifle and left to go to chow. Just got out the tent and Doc Jackson was standing in the door yelling at me to wait, he would go with me when the rocket hit the tent. I got knocked to the ground and don’t remember much. Next I knew someone was asking if I was hit and I wasn’t, but it took me a little to figure out where I was and what was going on. Doc Jackson took shrapmetal to the back. Later I was told that Dwight and Williams got killed and the rest of you were medivaced. Never got to know Dwight of Williams much as I was pretty new. I know later I was told to get my gear and I went in to get it and there was nothing left. The rocket hit close to where my stuff was and it was gone. I’ll never forget the smell in the tent and it didn’t really hit me till the 25th just how lucky I was. That’s pretty much all it was, luck. Glad to hear you made it out. I had heard about Pop, I’ll never forget him. Learned a lot from him and owe him my rear end. After we left Dewey Canyon I put in for the Combined Action Group. Left Fox when we were on the Rockpile. Benjamin made it out to Montana and visited my family after he got out. He was a character. Think about you guys a lot, especially on 12-23.
      George Jensen

  149. JOE MCGREGOR says:

    Pop Orr was my best friend thru the years I was with him when he died in 2005 . HE was my Plt. Sgrt. on Dewey Canyon I REMEMBER THE TRIP INTO LOAS POP SAVED OUR ASSES PLENTY OF TIMES

  150. Vincent shaw(bootleg) says:

    Hey Moxley,I remember you showing me that helmet with the hole in it .Imissed out on hill 1044 I got wounded Feb 22,and didn`tcome back to Delta for 10 days.Man I just found this website.

    • Ed Culp says:

      Hey Vince, Welcome home. I was with Delta when we went down the hill that day. I didn’t know anyone else from Delta had been hit that day except for the Corporal that was killed by a cherry, while we were going down the hill the first time to help Alpha out. Cherry had his safety off and shot the Corporal in front of him. Glad you made it home Brother. I was Deltas CO’s BN radioman. Semper FI.

  151. Vincent shaw(bootleg) says:

    Sheila I remember Lt Smith he was my plt co and later when we went to Okinawa my co.Yeah I got a couple of stories about him.YOUcan call me at 8503981680

  152. Sgt Wagner says:

    Just wondering if anyone here was with Echo 2/9, I was the Bn RO till just before Dewey Canyon and couldn’t find much information on Echo Company. I know it was a lifetime ago but I just found this thread.

  153. Ken "Buzzard" Miller says:

    Marines & Beloved Corpsman,

    Before the clock strikes 3/00/0000, this being 2/28/2015, 46th Anniversary of being a day in this month 2/10/1969. The Darkest day of my life. Served with Mike 3/9 2nd Platoon BushBeaters. Just Busted a “Phony” Mustang Major, 2 Tours Vietnam Silver Star ScumBag. Feb 10, 2015 Happiest day of my Life till my last breath. In Memory of Lost Brothers………Semper Fidelis

  154. Marvin Chapman aka chapie says:

    Served with Mike 3/9 as squad leader of snoppy, these days I get the platoons mixed up, I think it was the 1st; however seeing your name it may have been the 2nd. That being said I do remember you and I would like to say Semper Fidelis my brother.

    Cpl. Chapman Mikw 3/9 – 1968- 1969

  155. Patrick Price says:

    Ed Culp

    My name is Pat Price…I was with Lima 3/9

    Do you remember a Capt Hapgood, Lt Whorley,

    Or Sgt Wentzell or Cpl Swede (not his real name)

    or a crazy guy …a sgt who went by the name Charlie Brown…he would sit outside of his hootch during incoming so that he would not have to share his hot chocolate…


    In the 1990’s a guy came to work for me who was with H 2/9 in the Ashau….His name is Frank Rodriquez…..I sold my company but still stay in touch with Frank….I just came in country when Dewey Canyon started.

    Thanks for any info that you might have.

  156. Ken Miller says:

    Patrick go to to reconnect with Lima Brothers. Semper Fidelis

  157. My uncle was one of the men CPL Morgan tried to save. He is PFC Robinson Santiago any info from anyone who may have known him would be greatly appreciated.

  158. Cpl. John Fleming says:

    I was there will never forget Hotel 2/9

  159. john young says:

    hi does anyone remember me (john) or boston they called me. when we used to get together by the air strip in dong ha’ to sing old accapello music’blue moon,whats your name,ect. there was gwynn,chance,billy and 2 more of us. one night as we usually did they like every other night trew incoming mortar and 122 rockets at us we we,re more afraid of the 122,s because they had a high pitched whitle to them and when it stopped you did,nt know where they would hit. only clue we had was the unforgettable pitch as you knew t was louder so you new it was closer. any of you from hotel2 or a few other platoons might rember the one night a 122 hit the side of this half circe type of dugout with sandbags and we we,re hit on the sde of our dugout’ I hope youall made it and hope to hear from you,as if I remember right I know one died and I did,nt hear from sent stateside or on hospital ships.please let e know ok? “boston” 2/9 hotel alpha semper fi’ god bless you and I hope you still sing lol. we had good days then tgoo. till that happened. you have my e-mail hope really gang to hear frm gwynn,chamnce,billy, pesaganmo r smething we just called you the apache laughing and do you remember the doc,s name in our unit 68/69 he was back and a whte doc wth glasses too he took shrapnel out f our various slight wounds,c,ya all soon please buzz me’ my brothers

  160. randolfo v. lopez says:

    I was with D/1/9: does anyone remember the ‘foggy’ week when we could not get in any supplies due to heavy cloud cover? the only water was from putting the large leaves together for the slow drip from the mountain dew? does anyone remember when I used rice from the dead NVA to cook up a concoction of boiled rice with a can of c-rats thrown in for flavor?

  161. PhilT Listener says:

    I recently found the citation for the Bronze Star given to my cousin Mark Argenzio. He lost his right arm in the battle. He passed away in the mid 1980s.

    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Bronze Star Medal to:

    Private First Class Mark Argenzio
    United States Marine Corps

    For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the republic
    of Vietnam while serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company A, First battalion, Ninth Marines,
    Third marine Division.

    On 22 February 1969 Company A was participating in Operation Dewey Canyon in the A Shau Valley when it came under attack from a well-entrenched North Vietnamese Army Battalion. As the Second Platoon commenced an aggressive assault upon enemy emplacements, the
    Marines came under a heavy volume of mortar, small arms and automatic weapons fire and sustained several casualties.

    Fearlessly exposing himself to the hostile fire, Private First Class Argenzio ably assisted his gunner in directing accurate machine gun
    fire at the entrenched enemy force. When his machine gun had malfunctioned, he steadfastly attempted to clear the
    stoppage until he was wounded by enemy small arms fire. Continuing his determined efforts, he unhesitatingly seized an M-16 rifle from an injured comrade and assaulted North Vietnamese Army positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, he fearlessly maneuvered across the fire-swept terrain shouting words of encouragement to his fellow marines and firing his weapon until the seriousness of his injuries forced him to be medically evacuated.

    His bold initiative and timely actions inspired all who observed him and contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit’s
    mission. Private First Class Argenzio’s courage, resolute determination and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of
    great personal danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of The Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

    — H.W. Buse, Jr.
    Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps
    Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific

  162. Jim Bob says:

    I was assigned to Task Force Hotel based out of Vandergrift Combat Base, Quang Tri Province VN. and participated in Operation Dewey Canyon.

    Mag Gen Raymond Davis of Georgia was commanding General of 3rd Marine Division. Great Man, a real American Hero. 20 years later I met the Gen at a lecture he was giving on Why We Lost the War. Very interesting lecture. Sad to waste so many lives on a political statement that today is lost in history as was our real reason for involvement in that country. My friends died and will forever be young. We all die, they died Marines.

  163. Henry Gross says:

    Man, this site is still functioning! Hank Gross here, formerly Lt Henry V Gross, 1st Platoon Commander, India 3/9. Just looking at a picture of the platoon this morning. Cooter Brown is standing there looking up at the sky while the rest of the platoon is looking into the camera.
    I’ll be 74 in a few months, unless something out of the ordinary snuffs my candle. I still catch myself calling in artillery or trying to remember how to read a map and compass. No problem unless I’m walking with my wife and she notices i’m not really with her at the moment, but some where else. It’s been 50 years since I was in the Ashau and it still comes back at least once or twice a week, without letting up. Ifany of you old grunts are still alive…Semper Fi!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

, , , ,

Sponsored Content: